The Haddonfield Public Library is making its emerging technologies more accessible through the new Technology Center and Innovation Space, located where the former reference collection and computers used to sit and sectioned off by a glass partition and recently installed glass door.
“The library board of trustees felt very strongly that the library reflected our 21st-century mentality, except for the fact that the latest, most cutting-edge stuff was downstairs, and you had to look for it,” explained Library Director Eric Zino.
“So we started to think about how you might see that stuff right when you walk in, and that’s really where the germ of the idea came from,” he added
The project was supported by the borough, which funded the partition and the installation of different doors throughout the facility to allow more quiet space. The computers were moved to different sections of the library and the reference collection was moved upstairs, among other changes.
As for technology, the space features a Glowforge 3D laser cutter and engraver; a Prusa 3D printer; a Cricut machine that can cut paper, felt, vinyl and other materials; and two computers with specialized software, including Adobe Suite.
“One of the goals for our new tech center is to encourage community members to design and create projects,” said Cathy DeCampli, Emerging Technology and teen librarian. “For example, teachers, nonprofit organization members or business owners in the borough can utilize the equipment for creating signs, stickers, posters and even puzzle pieces. We will also be offering technology and science classes for all age groups.”
To use the equipment, residents can either forward their projects to the librarians, who can prepare 3D files for them, or they can become certified through the library’s Beanstack Software, which involves instructional videos and a one-on-one session with a technology staff member.
“A lot of what you see, like the 3D printer, was something that was pushed into the classroom when we had an event,” explained DeCampli. “Any kind of makerspace equipment for the kids we would pull out of the cabinets. It was all kind of hidden away, because there wasn’t really a home for it, so this gives it a permanent home where people can come in and interact with it when they want to, rather than when we’re available.”
The space also features different STEM kits, like robotics and circuitry, that can be checked out through circulation like a book. In the near future, it will also have a science center for kids and a VR set with educational programs, and the librarians hope to hold a variety of events there.
The library will celebrate Makers Day on March 26 with three events, including a session with Domonique Alesi, owner of Book Restoration Bindery, to create a book using Japanese Stab Binding. Space is limited and registration is required. To do so, or to learn what else is happening at the tech center, visit haddonfieldlibrary.org.