The proposed expansion for the Carroll Public Library includes a “makerspace,” an area that allows library users to create. Makerspaces can include 3D printers, laser printers, computers with video and music editing software and more.
The proposed expansion for the Carroll Public Library includes a “makerspace,” an area that allows library users to create. Makerspaces can include 3D printers, laser printers, computers with video and music editing software and more.

July 31, 2017

Rob Simons wasn’t expecting a crowd when he walked into the Carroll Public Library last week.

Simons, a representative from Aidex, a company that represents manufacturers of 3D printers, laser printers and other items used in schools and “makerspaces,” came to Carroll Public Library to share possibilities about the future — and he left impressed by what the library already has accomplished.

A makerspace or fabrication lab describes a space that, simply, is used to create — with 3D printers that use plastic and computer programs to make almost any item imaginable, laser printers, sewing machines, music and video editing software and more.

The designs for an expanded Carroll Public Library, pending a successful referendum Tuesday, include a makerspace. That space could include computers offering video and music editing and graphic design software, Library Director Rachel Van Erdewyk said — and it also could include additional equipment to help library users create.

For a new makerspace, Simons recommends starting with a 3D printer, a heat press, which affixes labels to items, a laser printer that can print images or designs on a variety of items and a sewing machine.

“You can grow it however you want,” he said. “A makerspace, a (fabrication lab) — it’s just a space to create things.”

Simons visited Carroll Public Library Thursday to discuss the equipment Aidex offers for makerspaces. He plans to return in the next few weeks with examples of the equipment so that area residents and library computers can see just how a 3D printer creates an item — they’ve been used to create prosthetic hands, beer can holders, garlic presses, birdhouses and more — or how a laser printer prints the image of someone’s face on a golf ball.

“I’m really impressed,” Simons said while visiting the library Thursday in the midst of a children’s program and various book-browsing ventures. “Walking into a library in the summer and seeing so many people here — that’s something. And if you were able to provide even more — this is an essential place to go.”

Schools have some of this equipment, and that’s important, too, Simons said — but the importance of having it available in libraries shouldn’t be underestimated.

“Libraries are for everybody,” Simons said. “It’s for the entire community. Students can come here for projects. Small-business owners who can’t buy the equipment can come here and use it. … As our world moves forward in technology, this is the type of thing that allows a community to grow.

“I could not think of a better facility to put this type of lab than a library.”

He noted that Carroll can build on its current user base by offering additional equipment and opportunities with a makerspace.

“It’s like, ‘If you build it, they will come,’” Simons said. “Well, they’ve already come, so it’s time to build it.”