Forget going to the local electronics or craft store. Some of the latest technology for home and craft projects will soon be available at the Mt. Laurel Library.
On Tuesday, April 15, the library will launch its new “Make It at Mt. Laurel Library” project. The event will serve as the official unveiling for a series of new tools and technologies for patrons to create a myriad of projects.
According to Joan Serpico, the library’s manager for special projects, the goal is to make the library a place for people to create using technology not readily available in many homes.
“We’re looking to redefine the library as a place where making and learning can happen,” Serpico said.
The most heralded piece of equipment in the library’s new project is its new 3D printer, which will allow users to create a product by making a digital image of it at home. Serpico said users will be able to create the product on their home computer and then bring it into the library to physically create.
“It’s kind of an empowering technology, but it’s also playing,” Serpico said.
Some of the items are simply more efficient options of older tools. For example, button makers and sewing machines will be available for use.
“It’s also kind of like those craft projects we’ve had forever,” Serpico said. “It’s very similar to that, only you’re just using something with a little technology thrown in.”
The library paid for the equipment with the help of a grant from LibraryLinkNJ and the New Jersey State Library. With the cost of some of equipment like the 3D printer ranging above $1,000, the grant is what allowed the library to put the program into action.
The library has prepared for its maker project by training staff on the new equipment the last few months. Individual staff members will receive training on individual pieces of equipment so they can hold classes and information sessions. Eventually, classes using the 3D printer, snap circuits and Makey Makey kits will be just as common as computer and crochet classes.
Serpico said the equipment may also be used in the library’s existing programs.
“In some ways, those programs may cross traditional making equipment with high-tech stuff,” she said.
The library’s focus of being a community-gathering place is not going away with this project. Serpico hinted at getting professionals involved with the equipment. The launch event is not just for novices to discover new technology, but also for technologically proficient people to come in and give their own input.
“This is a whole new world for libraries,” Serpico said. “Because we’re not already the community expert on these topics, this will be a place where members of the community will come to the launch.”
The launch event will run from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on April 15. Library personnel will be on hand with all of the new equipment to demonstrate and answer questions. The library is expected to release a schedule with demonstrations, classes and other informational sessions in the coming weeks.