From 3-D printers and circuit boards to sewing machines and knitting needles, library patrons now have a slew of new creative tools at a special lab in the newly renovated downtown public library, which reopened this month after a four-year makeover.
“I think this is going to be an incredible resource to Lafayette,” said Cara Chance, the librarian overseeing the new Makerspace and Tech Lab.
The lab features thousands of dollars in new technology: two 3-D printers, a laser cutter and engraver, a microphone, iPads and laptops.
Patrons will have access to a full suite of software for animation, video and audio editing, and video game design.
Younger patrons can get their little hands on LEGO Mindstorms kits, which allow kids to design, build, program and test robots made of LEGOs.
Young techies also can experiment with “inventor’s kits” that have all the materials to make 16 circuits that can interact with sensors, motors and an LCD display.
But it’s not all about tech.
For the more traditional crafter, there’s a sewing machine and a knitting corner full of armchairs and a basket for yarn.
“One of the things that I think is really exciting about this is that the community is going to make it and is going to shape it into whatever it becomes and whatever they need it to be,” Chance said.
The library plans to offer classes at the lab by the end of the summer, but the details are still being worked out.
Patrons, though, will have access to the lab before then as things settle down in the new facility.
“I’m still trying to see how this will play out,” Chance said. “I want to see how many people come and how people are using the space.”
The equipment is free for the public to use and, at least for now, there is no printing fee for the 3-D printers.
Chance sees the lab as a venue for experimentation and discovery.
“I think it’s OK to make mistakes, and that’s kind of what this place is for,” Chance said. “People can come in, try stuff out, and if it doesn’t work, they can tweak their design and try again.”
The lab is similar to the SPARK Lab at the South Regional Library, which hosts 3-D printers, 3-D design classes and computer programming coding classes for patrons.