ASHLAND Libraries always have been places for reading and research.
Soon the Boyd County Public Library also will be a place to create, with 3D printers and other high-tech hardware for patrons to use.
The library is installing a makerspace, a place where patrons can build, tinker, invent and innovate.
“The goal is to inspire. Who knows what somebody can invent with the right tools,” said public resources manager Ben Nunley.
The makerspace will be tucked into the corner of the main library formerly occupied by reference materials.
Walls have been erected to enclose the space and it is expected to be ready to use by January, library director Debbie Cosper said.
In addition to the printers, the space will include laser cutters and engravers, tools and supplies, and other equipment as the need is identified, Nunley said.
Equipment under consideration includes soldering gear, a sewing machine, wood or metal lathe and light table, he said.
“It fits in with the mission of the library to provide quality resources and access to information,” Cosper said. Library officials have been discussing the idea for several years, she said.
Patrons will have hands-on access to equipment they might not be able to afford on their own, or could try out a 3-D printer before making the investment, she said.
The space will be open to adults and children alike.
The machines and equipment are not toys, and library officials envision them used by for serious projects, but they will be available for recreational use as well. “The goal is to ignite that little spark of interest and curiosity,” Nunley said.
Another goal is to promote collaboration because creativity is enhanced when people share ideas, he said.
There will not be a charge for using the equipment, Nunley said. The intent is to provide the space and its equipment for free use by patrons. That is subject to change if expenses for printer filament and other supplies becomes too great, he said.
Staff will be trained on the equipment and will be able to offer guidance to users, he said.
Removing the reference materials came only after a year of tracking use, Cosper said.
The encyclopedias and other print references were virtually never used and most of the information was on library databases anyway.
“That’s an awful lot of real estate for materials that aren’t used,” Cosper said.
Plans call for the space to evolve and for more and different equipment to be added.
Patrons already have been posting ideas on the library’s Facebook page, including electronics equipment, woodburners and LEGO robots.
“It will be a lot of fun seeing what people will like to see in there,” Cosper said.
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