Making A-Z: Emerging Technologies in the Fayetteville Free Library's Makerspaces


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  • Background on the FFL- suburban public library in CNY. In 2012, we became the first public library to provide open access to 3D printing technologies and to develop a makerspace.Why did we go down this road?In 2012, identified hands-on making activities as being in line with our core mission:----Providing access to STEM learning opportunities for all ages----Supporting entrepreneurship, innovation and small businesses development in our communityAnother cool thing is that we are located in a former Stickley furniture factory. So our library has a strong history of being a place of manufacturing, a place where things are made.
  • Having identified making as being in line with our mission and our goals to support STEAM learning and entrenpreurship, we sought out the donation of a 3D printer and received one from a local print and copy company.At this point, we began offering “Fab Lab Open Houses” in our Community Room, an existing meeting room space. At these monthly events, community members were invited to come in and make things- using stuff ranging from the 3D printer to a hand orange juicer, from open source 3D design software to duck tape.We also started hosting “Take-A-Part Tuesdays,” where we asked community members to donate old electronics and we would invite kids, teens and parents to come in a take them apart to learn and see how they worked.Due to the huge success of these events, we began to develop dedicated spaces for making activities at the library.
  • First came our Creation Lab – our Digital Makerspace--Re-purposed Teen Tutoring Lab as a place to create digital things.--We also temporarily housed our 3D printers in this space while moving forward with the process of pursuing and administering a grant to develop a larger fabrication lab…
  • Our Fab Lab!--Were able to finish a previously unused space with grant funding--A hands-on environment, where you can make physical things and learn hands-on skills
  • Developed a complementary space for ages 5-8, to introduce them to STEAM concepts. We also have scheduled “Little Makers” programs twice a month using the toys, tools and supplies in this space.Our goal is to provide a continuum of hands-on making and STEM learning opportunities for patrons of all ages.
  • Arduinos are a tool for making computers that can sense and control more of the physical world than a desktop computer. They can be used to develop interactive objects, taking inputs from a variety of switches or sensors, and controlling a variety of lights, motors, and other physical outputs. The boards can be purchased preassembled for less than $50. To give you some examples of what Arduino is and what they can do, I’m going to show a quick video: We currently have a community-volunteer-led Microcomputers and Microcontrollers user group that meets monthly at the library in our Fab Lab to work on projects using development boards like Arduino, as well as Microcomputers, like the Raspberry Pi.This group is working to a system to detect deer activity in the garden by utilizing a single board computer, microcontrollers, and sensors!The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It can be used to do many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets and word-processing, and playing games and HD video. The Raspberry Pi Foundation developed it with the goal of seeing it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming. Raspberry Pis are one of the technologies utilized byour Microcontrollers and Microprocessors User Group.
  • This is one of the inventions we’ve made and played with with our patrons in our Little Makerspace. It uses a Kickstarter funded invention kit called MakeyMakey, that costs $50 per kit. MakeyMakey basically uses a USB cord to connect its circuit board to your computer. Instead of trying to explain it to you, I’ll show you a quick video of how it works and all the cool things it can do. The circuit board takes over the functionality of certain key on your keyboard or mouse. So you can use alligator clips to connect the MaKeyMaKey controller to the end of a banana, or a pencil, or a piece of Play-Doh, and make that object the keyboard or mouse input. Just touch your “banana” and you control the functionality of, for instance, the space bar on the computer. Patrons can hook this up to cool applications and let their creativity run wild!
  • We have two different types of Circuit Kits at the library- Snap Circuits, and Little Bits kits. Both are meant for ages 8 and up, but are also fun for adults!We use these to introduce kids to the concepts of circuits and electricity. They can use these kits to make their own inventions that light up, make noise, vibrate, and more.
  • Dad power – our making activities are getting dads on board in a whole new way.We are seeing them more and more in the library, working side-by-side with their kids at programs like “Build Your Own Birdhouse” and “Take-A-Part Tuesdays.”Here, a dad is literally powering a wall of lightbulbs as part of our Summer 2013 Kill-A-Watt Challenge, where we partnered with a local envrionmental organization to challenge families to reduce their energy use at home.
  • In our e-Textiles programs, teens learn to sew with an electronics twist! They learn to wire an LED light into fabric using conductivethread.
  • First Lego League is a competitive LEGO robotics club for students age 9-14. There was not a team locally, and we were approached by members of the community whose kids and grandkids wanted to be a part of one. So, we started one! We’ve participated for the past 2 years, and due to the overwhelming interest, have also started offering informal, monthly Lego Robotics challenges – called Mission: Lego for teens in grades 6-9, and Lego: Brainstorms for kids in grades 3-5.
  • A green screen wall and portable green screen cloth are two of the features of our Creation Lab.These are highly utilized for photo and video creation and editing, especially by members of our Creation Club and Creation Club Jr., for grades 6-9 and 3-5, respectively.Each month, these clubs meet to learn a new digital creation skill, for instance, using the green screen, creating a video game, or recording a podcast; they then meet again at the end of the month to share what they’ve made.
  • Our FabLab features a wall of hand tools.We use these for programs such as Take Apart Tuesdays, where kids, teens and adults take apart donated electronics to see what’s inside and learn how they work.This summer, we will be starting a new take apart series, where patrons can learn to take apart a computer and put it back together.We also use hand tools for classes such as building birdhouses, and our Home Repair series, beginning this summer.
  • We loan out several iPads for in-house use, as well as to take home for extended periods.We have these iPads loaded with apps for digital creation, such as:iMotion HD – an app for making stop motion moviesiMovie app- for movie makingGarage band app- for music makingHalf Tone app– for adding comic book effects to imagesDaisy the Dinosaur app- a kid’s app for learning coding
  • J is for Jewelry Making!We loan out “Learn Something New Kits,” that contain books and instructions for learning a new hands-on skill, as well as the tools needed to actually do the activities and make the projects in the book.These kits include Jewelry Making Learn to Knit, Learn to Crochet, Learn to Bake, and more.We also have a monthlyPinterest Craft Club series, where we do hands-on projects like making the fabric covered earrings you see above, or printing out pieces of jewelry on the 3D printer.
  • We provide access to K’nex Kits for open play in our Little Makers and Fab Lab spaces. We purchase these from the K’nex Education series, and each one has a targeted area of focus, such as Physics, Structures, Math & Geometry, and moer.We allo teachers and educators to check these kits out for use with their students.We also do programs at the library that utilize these kits. For instance, in the Summer Reading “Strongest Bridge Challenge” program, pictured above, teens learned about types of bridges, loads and stress. They then used K'nex kits to build their own bridges that had to stand up to a 15 second book/weight test.
  • A laser cutter is one of our newer acquisitions in the Fab Lab. It can cut and engrave materials such as wood, cardboard, leather and acrylic.Patrons can use it after attending a one-on-one training session.This picture shows Kane, who used the laser cutter to prototype a badge-holder invention that he has since sold to and has become one of the best-selling items in the market.
  • Makerbot is a company that produces 3D printers. We provide access to 2 Makerbot Thing-o-Matics (an earlier generation Makerbot), 4 Makerbot 2 machines, and one Makerbot 2X, which can print in 2 colors at once.Our patrons of all ages use these 3D printers to make all different kids of things. --We have Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops coming into the lab to earn badges, using 3D printers to design games and game pieces.--We have many adults that use the 3D printers to prototype inventions or new products for their companies--A local area university hospital has used the lab to print model brain stems for use in their neuroscience classrooms--Local museums have used the printers to make objects for their displays--Every day people come into the lab to print things they find on the Thingiverse web site, including ornaments, key chains, desktop organizers, business card holders, iPhone cases, cookie cutters, and more.
  • We offer access to knitting needles, loaning them out as part of our “Learn to Knit” kits.We also offer access to local experts to teach you how to use the needles, in our community-volunteer-led knitting classes & weekly Knitting Club.
  • We often utilize free and open source software for maker and STEM learning programs. We use Sketchup and Tinkercad for 3D design classes, Kodu Game Lab, Scratch and Gamestar Mechanic for video game creation, Audacity for audio recordings, and Gimp for image editing, just to name a few.
  • We provide drop-in access to in our Creation Lab. Teachers and students often use our podcasting equipment for class projects. We also bring our equipment with us to community events, as seen here.
  • Quilting and sewing are HUGE in our Fab Lab space. We provide access to 7 sewing machines, as well as cutting mats, rotary cutters, irons and ironing boards, and community donated fabric.We have a weekly Quilting Club that meets in this space, as well as several group sewing classes each month and one-on-one sewing lessons.Learning opportunities around quilting and sewing at the library are all entirely community-volunteer-driven. We have a dedicated group of sewers and quilters who are passionate about sharing what they know with their community!
  • putting together a project to create a robot that will possibly assist librarians and patrons
  • Solidworks and Sketchup are 3D design programs that we provide access to in the Fab Lab. Solidworks is a professional 3D design software, which we acquired a Lab license to as a donation from a local CAD software retailer.Sketchup is a free 3D design software, available to anyone for download.Community volunteers teach classes on both, and we also offer learning opportunities through Treehouse, an online, project-based learning resource that allows patrons to take courses on 3D design, mobile app and web site development, coding, and more.
  • is a web site where people worldwide share 3D designs that they’ve created.Many of our patrons utilize in their 3D printing efforts. They get started with 3D printing by finding an object they’re interested in, downloading it, and hitting “print.” It’s pretty much as easy as that.From there, we teach them how to design their own objects in our Solidworks and Sketchup classes.T is also for TREEHOUSE
  • Making activities at our library are for users, by users. A huge amount of our hands-on classes, clubs and activities are led by community volunteers- as mentioned, everything from Adult Robotics classes to Crafting Clubs.Thanks in part to our hands-on making activities, we’ve gotten many previously uninvolved community members engaged in a truly meaningful way, by providing them the opportunity to lead the action, meet and collaborate with likeminded individuals, get their hands dirty and pursue their passions. Even prior library users are now involved in different ways than they had been previously and are bigger supporters than ever, since instead of coming to the library for a passive program, they are contributing content and making the action. We make it a point to provide many opportunities for patron feedback and idea contribution, including having giant post-it notes and spaces on our pegboard walls where patrons can answer questions like “What would you like to make?” “What would you like to learn?” and “What should go here?” This, in part, has really informed some of our development, such as the addition of a laser cutter in the space.
  • A vinyl cutter is another tool we provide access to intheFab Lab. It can cut vinyl, making wall decals, computer or phone decals, stencils, and more. This is another tool that we require a one-on-one certification course with before we allow patrons to use it on their own.
  • We rely heavily on web sites like Instructables, and Pinterest for project ideas!We also rely heavily on our web site and social media sites to share and promote what we’re making and doing in our makerspaces. -As we all know, a picture is worth a hundred words to patrons and shareholders-Pictures are also great for keeping a record of what we’ve doneWe maintain a very active Flickr account & Instagram account that links to our Facebook and Twitter pages, to share the awesome things people have made. We use the hashtag #fflmakers for sharingWe also use Hootsuite for scheduling social media posts, which is super helpful when you are trying to cover all your bases and have multiple social media platforms that you use. We provide links to project ideas, how-to handouts and videos on our web site, as well, on our web site and social media.
  • Our community experts are very camera-shy, but again, we can’t emphasize enough their importance -- if you can tap into your community, you don’t have to worry about the library staff learning new skills or ask “how are we going to teach a class on that, none of us know anything about it!” You don’t have to be the experts – you just have to make the connections, finding the people in your community who know, and hooking them up with the people who WANT to know.
  • The most important take-away as that YOU TOO CAN DO THIS!--You don’t need space!! Many of these classes, clubs and activities can be done in a general community meeting room. We were doing these activities for a year and a half before our Fab Lab space was ready.--You don’t need to be the expert!! Again, find those in your community who are and tap into their knowledge and passions.
  • Formore info on our pricing, policies, touring our space, etc. go to
  • Making A-Z: Emerging Technologies in the Fayetteville Free Library's Makerspaces

    1. 1.  Our Digital Makerspace! › A place to create digital things – photos, videos, audio recordings/podcasts, games, AND MORE!
    2. 2.  Our fabulous laboratory! › A hands-on learning environment, where you can learn to MAKE physical things!
    3. 3.  Our makerspace for ages 5-8! › Discover. Create. Build. › Drop-in any time, or attend scheduled programs.
    4. 4. Arduino!
    5. 5. Banana piano!
    6. 6. Circuit kits!
    7. 7. Dad power!
    8. 8. E-Textiles!
    9. 9. First Lego League!
    10. 10. Green screens!
    11. 11. Hand tools!
    12. 12. iPads
    13. 13. Jewelry making!
    14. 14. K’nex kits!
    15. 15. Laser cutter!
    16. 16. Makerbots!
    17. 17. Needles!
    18. 18. Open source & free software!
    19. 19. Podcasting!
    20. 20. Quilting & sewing!
    21. 21. Robotics Club!
    22. 22. Solidworks & Sketchup
    23. 23. Thingiverse
    24. 24. User-driven!
    25. 25. Vinyl cutter!
    26. 26. Web site(s)!
    27. 27. eXperts!
    28. 28. You! (And you can, too!) › You don’t need a “lab”! › You don’t need to be the expert!
    29. 29. Queztions??! 
    30. 30. › Leah Kraus › Virtual Branch Director › (315) 637-6374 ext. 324 › › Sue Considine › Executive Director › (315) 637-6374 ext. 307 ›