Next month, the Chicago Public Library will open the city’s first free “maker space” on the third floor of Harold Washington Library in the Loop. The pop-up fabrication lab will offer the public access to 3D printers, laser cutters, a milling machine and a vinyl cutter as well as a variety of supporting design software.
The space opens July 8 and will close at year-end. After its six-month run, the library says it will consider hosting labs in neighborhood branches.
Much More From the Library’s Announcement:
The Chicago Public Library is opening the CPL Innovation Lab at the Harold Washington Library Center. Already used by a variety of industries from retail to banking to universities, innovation labs offer organizations a place to test new ideas for services, programs and products. The third floor space at the Chicago Public Library will allow CPL to quickly experiment with new ideas and approaches in order to be more customer focused and able to adapt to the community’s changing needs.
The first innovation experiment in the space is the Maker Lab, part of the growing movement of hands-on, collaborative learning environments in which people come together to share knowledge and resources to design, create and build items. CPL is the first large urban library to experiment with a maker space. Made possible with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to the Chicago Public Library Foundation, the Maker Lab will be open to the public from July 8 through December 31, 2013. While a number of maker spaces exist in Chicago, this will be the first free maker space open to the public.
Created in partnership with the Museum of Science and Industry, the Library’s Maker Lab offers the public an introduction to technology and equipment which are enabling new forms of personal manufacturing and business opportunities. After the six month run, the Library will evaluate the project to determine the fit with the Library’s mission and the ability to bring the project, or elements of it, to a wider audience in the neighborhood branches.
In addition to Open Lab hours during which patrons can work with staff members to master new software and create personal projects, a variety of programs and workshops will be offered throughout the seven day schedule of the Maker Lab. Family workshops will be offered every Sunday afternoon to foster invention, creation and exploration of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), the focus of this year’s Summer Learning Challenge.