With life quickly getting back to normal in Oregon, libraries, parks and other public facilities have been cautiously reopening to the public.
In Tualatin, however, the Tualatin Public Library has remained closed for in-person services, but for a very necessary reason. Construction of the long-awaited maker space finished up in May, and City officials wanted to hold off until that happened.
“We’re hoping the construction will be done by the end of the month, but it might stretch into the first week of June,” Library Director Jerianne Thompson said. “But we’re looking at that to happen and then we’ll be able to reopen.”
Thompson noted that while cities like Tigard and Sherwood have re-opened, it’s been hard to stay closed and the library has been fielding regular questions on the topic.
“It started out that it was great timing because we were closed and it was the perfect time to do a construction project,” she said. “But now things are starting to pick up and open up, and we’re just a little bit behind the curve unfortunately.”
When the library does open, however, kids of all ages will have access to a brand-new maker space packed with both new technologies like 3D printers, robotic sets and a Glowforge laser cutter, as well as tried-and-true tools including a tabletop kiln for pottery and even a serger style sewing machine.
“The 3D printers are actually currently sitting at my house,” said Sarah Jesudason, the library’s Public Services Supervisor. “When we completely closed back a year ago, I saw an opportunity to assist by making the frames for face shields for medical personnel. I’m excited to have them doing something else.”
The new 735 square foot maker space is adjacent to the existing teen room but will have its own separate entrance. Inside, shelves to hold equipment will line two walls, while the other walls will remain largely bare to allow unique configurations for various programs.
“We’re really hoping that kids of all ages use the space,” Thompson said. “We’re definitely going to have programs geared toward youth because we really want to see this as a place that youth can connect to technology that they may not have access to at home.”
Some kids might grow up with a 3D printer or other specialized tools at home, she added, but most do not. Grants from Te Connectivity, a Tualatin manufacturer or sensors and connectivity, and the Tualatin STEAM Team Foundation, a local group that supports access to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, also aided the library in outfitting the space.
“Having access to some of these pieces of special technology and equipment will help create more equity in access,” she said. “And we also really want to encourage an interest in STEAM topics.”
In the meantime, the library will continue to offer its online holds pickup service for those who wish to reserve books or other materials. Take-and-Make craft kits for kids will continue, as will the library’s virtual storytime and other online programming.
Notably, a series of in-person events in various City parks are in the works for later this summer, since popular events such as the Reptile Man are still difficult to plan for because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re working on plans for this summer to come visit the parks, since we can’t do in-person programs quite yet,” Thompson said. “It’s getting close but we’re not quite there yet.”