NPR recently did a story about libraries re-inventing themselves as hackerspaces, including the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the Fayetteville Free Library in New York. The Allen County library has a hackerspace that has set up camp in a trailer in the parking lot. The Faytteville Free Library is located near Syracuse in Central New York, and they’re building a hackerspace inside the library.
Our friends at New Blankets has been talking with the FFL about collaborating, and invited me and Jon Santiago from NYC Resistor to visit the library and meet with Lauren Britton Smedley, the librarian behind the project. We built bristlebots, and printed kid’s designs on the Makerbot.
The library is located in the hundred-year-old L & J.G. Stickley furniture factory. One wing of the factory has been turned into the library, and the other wing is where the fab lab is going to go. It’s a huge space – several times the footage of CRASHspace, and it’s all open space, so they can build it out however they want. They’ve raised over $250,000 to build the hackerspace. It’s going to be a great space.
They already have two MakerBot Thing-O-Matics, and plan on adding a laser cutter, CNC router, and other maker tools.
On Friday the 6th, we had 25 kids from The New School, and showed them how to make bristlebots. Between the kids and the staff, over two days, we used up 50 pager motors (none of the kids knew what a pager was, so we had to call them cell phone motors). The motors didn’t have long leads, so we had to add a wire to one side, but soldering irons aren’t allowed because the factory has burned down twice, and there are still wood chips and sawdust on the floor of the unfinished wing. Lauren knows they need to allow soldering irons if they really want to be a hackerspace.
After the bristlebots, we printed up a storm on the MakerBots. We had computers set up so people could use 3Dtin.com and tinkerCAD.com to make their own designs. In no time, this girl designed a horse, which we printed out for her:
Saturday was an open house, and we had all sorts of folks visit. Everyone seems excited about having a pace where they can learn to make things. It’s great that a space like this will be open to the public for free, and that they’re building a space where people can make things in a former factory where they used to make furniture.