Tucked away in the Mt. Lebanon Public Library is the Maker Space, a room that allows patrons to mix creativity and technology. The room is stocked with a 3-D printer, eight computers, a sewing machine, Raspberry pi computers, iPads and general craft supplies.
Since the space opened in September 2014, Public Services Librarian Brandon Priddy, along with Children’s Librarians Dana Jones and Rachel Blyer, have taught a variety of programming for children and adults. In a stop-motion animation class, children used an animation app to take pictures of the Play Doh figures they made and compile the images into a short clip. Priddy has helped children design action figures on an iPad and then 3-D print them. The librarians have also hosted book groups in the Maker Space where children have made dioramas that correlate to scenes in the book the group is reading. Basic coding and basic sewing are among other skills that children learn. For adults, they have offered classes on 3-D printing of holiday ornaments and cookie cutters.
Besides offering programs that require registration, the space has open hours from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m., Monday through Friday. In open hours, children are supervised by a librarian but can work with the supplies and technology as they’d like.
Most people don’t have access to the technology that the Maker Space provides, such as a $2,000 3-D printer. “We have computers in there with lots of content creation software on them, so we’re giving access to a lot of things,” Priddy says. “And it’s just cool for after school, for kids to have someplace to come and work on things.”
All of the programs are free. The technology and craft supplies in the Maker Space were funded by donations.
The Maker Space is a place for children to escape from the rigidity and academic standards of school and focus on the process of learning and creation. “It’s a place where people can make mistakes. If it doesn’t come out well, it’s not a big deal,” says Priddy.