January 27, 2022

Pop-Up MakerSpace Opens at Harold Washington Library Center/Chicago Public Library

Note: We first mentioned that this pop-up MakerSpace would debut on July 8th in this June 20, 2013 post. 

From the Chicago Tribune:

“I’m going to print an octopus,” said librarian John Christensen. This was Monday morning at the Harold Washington Library Center. Christensen was demonstrating for me one of the 3-D printers the library recently acquired for its Maker Lab, a kind of pop-up tech space on the third floor. Here, for six months, the Chicago Public Library system will test the public viability of the 3-D printer, allowing patrons full access to its trio of 3-D printers. Within limits: “We don’t want people printing weapons or anything offensive, of course,” said Mark Andersen, who runs the system’s business, science and technology division. (Use of a MakerBot Replicator 2 is free, but librarians must approve whatever you design.)


The small, renovated space, which held a longtime exhibition on the history of a Chicago and is now the CPL Innovation Lab (of which the Maker Lab is its first innovation), buzzed with activity. On one side of the room, Christensen demonstrated the printer, which costs about $2,000; on the other side, there was the first of a series of weekly workshops that teach the basics of 3-D printing. Rebecca Wurtz, a doctor who specializes in infectious diseases at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, was taking the workshop. She wandered over and squinted at the octopus shape.

Additional Coverage

3D printing for all: Inside Chicago library’s new “pop-up maker lab” (via ars technica)

 One such lesson is that the machines are loud when being used—not exactly ideal for a library. Additionally, since some of these machines are relatively new technology (3D printers, we’re looking at you), they tend to break down easily. In fact, that’s why the Harold Washington library decided not to make its three MakerBot printers available for public use just yet, despite the buzz around today’s launch. “That will be coming very soon, but on launch day, we’ll probably just have the MakerBots printing our own projects to give people a feel for how they work,” the library’s head of business, science, and technology, Mark Andersen, told Ars.

Why public libraries should follow Chicago’s lead and build maker labs (via GigaOm)

The lab at Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center will stock three MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers, two laser cutters, a milling machine and a vinyl cutter, plus a selection of software. A $249,999 grant will sustain its operation through the end of 2013, at which point it will be re-evaluated. The city will also consider adding maker spaces to other library locations.

Brief Comment

Many other libraries around Chicagoland, Illinois, and the country for that matter already offer 3D printing and other tech tools for users. The GigaOm article makes no mention of this fact.

For example, around Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois:


About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.