MakerLab coming soon to library

September 29, 2023

I have exciting news for the community of Berea.

Last month, the Madison County Public Library was awarded a $35,000 grant from the Steele-Reese Foundation to transform the Berea location’s basement into a MakerLab!

MakerLabs in libraries have been growing in popularity for almost two decades, as equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC routers have become more accessible. Generally speaking, a MakerLab is a space that provides equipment, tools, and technology to assist in creative projects. MakerLabs also provide space for lifelong learning and community connection. Patrons can both learn from direct experience with the equipment and from working with each other.

A MakerLab was part of the library’s Richmond location remodel in 2019, and was met with great success. Our 3D printers have been a significant draw and are in consistent use. The library’s Technology Services team has also used this space and its equipment for STEM activities, robotics and coding programs, as well as digitization projects.

While these technology-driven programs have remained popular, we recently noticed a shift towards more “analog” equipment. An awareness of sustainability and self-sufficiency came into focus more prominently during the pandemic. Perhaps as a result, the Richmond location’s sewing machines are among its most utilized pieces of equipment. The ability to create something, whether it’s virtual or tangible, is a key goal of the library’s MakerLab.

Our MakerLab in Berea will be a hybrid of high and low tech. We’ll have traditional MakerLab equipment such as 3D printers, a large capacity laser cutter, and a poster printer, alongside sewing machines, a Cricut, and pottery wheels. A significant and unique feature of the Berea MakerLab will be a recording studio. Our goal is for this space to be utilized for podcasting, music production and recording, as well as oral histories. As I write this, I’m becoming increasingly excited about the prospect of an oral history podcast! I hope your creative interests are piqued, too.

The Berea library’s MakerLab is an exciting project, and also a major one, as the basement has been used primarily for storage. Grant funds from the Steele-Reese Foundation will mostly cover the remodel of the space, including electrical and plumbing upgrades, flooring, painting, and construction of the recording booth. The remainder will be spent on equipment. Our incredible Friends of the Madison County Public Library have also pledged an additional $5000 to support equipment purchases!

We hope to have the project completed by the summer of 2024. In the meantime, please contact me with any questions. I am confident this project is going to have a tremendously positive impact for Berea and I look forward to welcoming you to our new MakerLab next year!

phil malicote