| By Kathryn Deen |
Unleash your creativity at Cooper Memorial Library.
There is plenty of equipment to experiment with in the library’s makerspace, which has been growing its offerings since it opened two years ago to library members of all ages. (Ages 12 and under must have adult supervision.) Everything is free to use, with nominal material fees.
The Go Zone is an estimated 265-square-foot room on the first floor that opened in June 2015. Initial costs rang in around $5,000-$8,000, covered by sponsors Friends of the Library, Lake-Sumter State College and the University of Central Florida. (The addition displaced the adult fiction to the second floor and inspired a portion of Lake Sumter State College’s collection to go digital.)
While 3D printers are the cornerstone of the creative space, it also features a vinyl cutter, large-scale poster printer, a setup for shooting and editing photos and videos, die-cutters, sewing machines, and tables to seat 16-plus for crafting.
It all started with the 3D printing craze, which took off in the 2010s, when innovations like 3D-printed cars and food were coming out in the media, said the library’s circulation manager, Andrea Gehringer. Makerspaces began popping up in libraries as a way to make the machines accessible to the public, and Cooper Memorial hopped on board.
“Everyone was clamoring for 3D printers, not only to utilize, but just to see how they functioned,” Andrea said. “That’s what started it – a combination of having the 3D printers available, people interested in them, lots of news stories coming out about their capacity and life-changing things that they’ve printed for individuals and animals, etc.”
“And then from there thinking, well if we have this, what else can we have? What can people use to make – especially since there was a lot of liturgy coming out at the time about how people aren’t having tactile experiences. Everything’s digital. People don’t necessarily use their hands during the regular day.”
To try out 3D printing at the library, simply design or select your 3D creation at Tinkercad.com. Then, watch it come to life on one of two 3D Systems Cube-brand 3D printers, 2nd- and third-generation editions. The plastic material costs 20 cents/gram, usually amounting to a few dollars per item. Most commonly, people print their names, Andrea said. She’s also seen game pieces; luggage tags; a human heart model; home models; and simple machine parts made in the studio. Item sizes range from about 1/2-inch squares to 5-inch cubes.
While the 3D printer remains the most popular offering, the vinyl cutter is a close second. Everyone from the Lake County Supervisor of Elections Office to local clubs and businesses have used the machine to cut 2-mil vinyl signs and decals at 75 cents per linear foot, including application tape.
Printing large posters is another option here, whether it’s for your business or your dorm room. Choose between 18″-by-24″ or 24″-by-36″ sizes on high-quality bond paper or instant-dry gloss for $7/linear foot.
Another fun, unique opportunity is to shoot photos and videos in the room. The library provides a Canon DSLR, green screen backdrop, tripod and umbrella light lamps. People have come to record commercials, podcasts and school projects, to name a few.
Speaking of school projects, the two die-cutters are well loved among educators for their classroom displays.
Classes also are held in the room, such as sewing and quilting basics. A quilting group meets every Tuesday to work on projects together, while a general crafting group meets on Thursdays to knit, crochet, embroider – you name it. The Go Zone has six sewing machines, including computerized ones, as well as a serger, two irons and ironing boards.
Many people have donated materials for scrap-booking, crocheting, knitting and quilting, as well as crafting books and magazines.
“We’re hoping to expand the crafting aspect because a lot of people ask for it,” Andrea said.
A minor downfall of the makerspace? There’s not much privacy. The walls don’t quite reach the ceiling, and since it’s a library, there’s an impending feeling to “keep it down.”
“It would be great if we could have it all glassed in, but it wasn’t financially feasible at the time,” Andrea said.
Perhaps a future donor will make that happen.
To reserve the library’s makerspace…
- Schedule a 30-minute training for the equipment you’re interested in using. Call the library at 352-536-2275 and then head over to 2525 Oakley Seaver Drive for your session.
- Book the room for your activity for two hours at a time between 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday; or 10 a.m.-noon Friday and Saturday. A staff member is usually available to help out during the weekdays.
- Get creative! Share what you make with us at ClermontMagazine@gmail.com or post photos in the comments below.
Kathryn Deen is the founder and editor of Clermont Magazine, a Clermont resident and an award-winning professional journalist.
Enjoy these bonus photos touring the Go Zone: