$246,545 awarded to Westport Library

In July of 2012, the MakerSpace opened in the Westport Library as a place for people to connect, invent, and create. On September 30, 2013, the library announced that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has chosen to award it with a $246,545 grant for a project named “MakerSpace 2.0: Retinkering Libraries.”

For those unfamiliar to the MakerSpace, it is based in the main hall of the library. Its main purpose is to educate people of all ages about 3D printers, as well as other technology, and to inspire creativity.

The Westport Library will be working with Southern Connecticut State University, and students that are taking library classes are going to intern at the library and help assess how the grant is used. Bill Derry, the Assistant Director for Innovation and User Experience at the Westport Library, helped to write the application and helped shed light on the usage.

“We will be able to pay for a maker-in-residence each month, add lots of new Maker classes, add an interactive innovation museum component to the MakerSpace, and buy some new Maker kits, tools and resources,” Derry said.

The “maker-in-residence” Derry speaks of are adults who come in to the MakerSpace at different times and run projects or teach Maker classes.

Maker classes are little workshops where people of all ages are invited to learn how to build and accomplish different projects. The first project done at the MakerSpace was the production of two large, wooden model airplanes, which currently hang above the main hall of the library.

There are lots of Staples students involved as well. Peter Sauer ’16 volunteers at the MakerSpace due to his love of technology. He also recommends it to anyone looking into engineering because “it is great for learning how to use [3D] printers, a skill which will undoubtedly be very important in the near future.”

However, due to the current government shutdown, and since the IMLS is a government funded organization, the grant won’t be delivered until the shutdown has ended.

This doesn’t lower the spirits of Derry.

“We do not expect the government shutdown to affect the grant. It may push the starting date and ending date forward a bit, but we don’t think it will impact the distribution of funds and the implementation of our plans,” he said.