At the Library 10/12/23

At the Library
by Cary Ann Siegfried

The MakeIT Place Update


On many days this Fall the Library has been and will be a noisy place as construction on The MakeIT Place has begun!  The project kicked off on September 19 and according to the current schedule will end in the middle of January 2024. 


For those not familiar with this project, The MakeIT Place will be the Washington Public Library’ new makerspace.  And for those not familiar with the term, a makerspace is a collaborative workspace where people with common interests, often in technology, science or the arts, gather to share resources, knowledge and equipment to create, invent and learn.


In the Library’s strategic plan survey a year ago, community members expressed strong interest in adding a makerspace to the library. The WFPL Foundation, the nonprofit organization that assisted with fundraising to build our current facility and has continued to provide financial support for special projects, also was enthusiastic about this idea and offered their support. When the library was originally constructed, a space of about 3,000 square feet in the lower level was never finished out and lends itself very effectively to be used for a makerspace. To design The MakeIT Place, the project team (consisting of Foundation Board Directors, Library Trustees, Library staff and City of Washington staff), has been working with architects and engineers to ensure that the space will be well-designed, safe, and that it functions effectively with existing building technology.


The design was completed in June 2023 and the construction project was issued for bids in July 2024 by the City of Washington. In September a contract with Reed Construction was approved by City Council.  In order to assemble the equipment list, the project team used the priorities expressed by the community in surveys and an open house and has visited numerous other public library makerspaces and corresponded with others to get input on types of equipment and models/manufacturers. The final list of equipment will depend on grant funding requests that are in progress, but items on our “wish list” include:  3D printers, laser engraver, Cricut vinyl cutter and peripherals, audio/video recording studio equipment, sewing machines, a poster printer, laminator, “memory lab” equipment (scanner, DVD/VHS/8MM film digitization equipment), STEAM lab for kids (coding, robotics, LEGOS, arts/crafts, etc.), pottery wheels and a kiln.


Project goals for The MakeIT place are: 


·         To give youth outside-of-school enrichment opportunities that increase their ability to create, innovate and problem-solve. And through these opportunities, to assist with college and career readiness/awareness by exposing youth to role models and mentors in STEM fields and real-world technology applications.

·         To give adults exposure to technologies and equipment that might not be financially feasible for them to have in their own homes. Access to these resources may assist community members in starting, maintaining, or improving a small business.

·         To continue to offer additional life-long learning opportunities to the community that connect community members to one another by encouraging mentoring, meet-ups and interest groups


After construction is completed in January, furniture and equipment installation will begin and staff and volunteers will begin to train on the equipment.  We hope to open The MakeIT place to the general public in late Spring of 2024.