Long-awaited facility offers everything from basic hand tools to 3D printing
A long-awaited addition to the Tualatin Public Library is now up and running.
The library’s new science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – lab is now open and available for the public to use. It’s aimed primarily at students and young individuals but is available for anyone interested in learning how to use a host of new and modern creative tools. These range from simple hand tools to modern 3D printers and a Glowforge laser cutter capable of etching intricate designs on a variety of different materials.
“Because of COVID, it’s been kind of a slow roll,” said Librarian Kit Lorelied, who is overseeing Makerspace operations. “We started our Meet the Makerspace series last Thursday, so that was the very first time we had an official event for people to come in and see it. And then this coming Sunday (Oct. 17) is when we’re going to start our open labs. There will be two hour blocks and we’ll look to expand those hours as things go on.”
Construction work on the new space was actually completed in June, but the subsequent spike in COVID-19 cases around Oregon slowed the pace at which library officials re-opened normal programming.
The new 735 square foot maker space is adjacent to the library’s existing teen room but has its own separate entrance. Inside, shelves to hold equipment line two walls, while the other walls are largely comprised of interior windows separating the maker space from the rest of the library.
Grants from Te Connectivity, a Tualatin manufacturer of 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.
There are no age limits on who may use the space, Lorelied said. But there are requirements for using certain tools, some of which will require brief instruction and certification to ensure the user is competent to operate the machinery without harming themselves or the equipment. Some of the tools in this category include a pair of LulzBot 3D printers, the Glowforge laser cutter and screen printing and vinyl cutting equipment one can use to create signs or other materials adorned with custom logos or designs.
“We do have stuff the youngers can play with,” Lorelied said. “In fact, there is more stuff that is not certified than there is certified.”
The pent-up demand for the new space has already been made clear.
“There is a ton of enthusiasm,” Lorelied said. “It was really gratifying, because with COVID, again, we’re working in kind of a vacuum sometimes. People would come in and each person has a different thing that they were looking at where you could see the lightbulbs going on where they could see what projects they were going to make.”
Library Director Jerianne Thompson added that the library’s older mobile Makerspace will remain in use for public events and other outreach efforts but will largely be supplanted by the new facility and in-person outreach led by Lorelied.
“We may use it (the mobile maker space) for some outreach and community events,” Thompson said. “It’s additional, but we’ll probably do more of having Kit go in in person than having the mobile maker space come out, but for bigger events it’s definitely something we’ll have available.”