By Matt Clevenger
TROY — Remodeling work is nearly complete at the Troy-Miami County Public Library (TMCPL)’s new Maker Lab, and a tentative opening date has been scheduled for Monday, April 17.
“It’s actually coming along really well,” Maker Lab Manager Elijah Stephens said. “Construction is almost complete; we just have some wrap-up work to do.”
“Right now, we’re setting up all of the equipment and furniture in the space,” he said.
When it opens, the Maker Lab will provide a free work space for library patrons to use, as well as access to a wide variety of machines, ranging from 3D printers, CNC routers and a laser engraver/cutter to sewing machines, large format paper printers and embroidery machines.
“We have some things that people are familiar with, such as sewing machines and embroidery machines,” Stephens said. “We also have a fairly large laser engraver and cutter.”
“We have a large format 54” vinyl banner printer,” he said. “It can also do things like window clings and wall clings and different signage. We’ll also have a large 36” paper printer, if they want to do posters and things like that.”
“We have two CNC routers for cutting things like wood and vinyl; they’ll do aluminum as well,” Stephens said. “We have various hand tools for use; drills, hammers, saws and that type of thing.”
A library card will be required to use the Maker Lab, and some machines will require a short training session with Maker Lab staff before patrons are certified to operate them. Use of the Maker Lab and equipment will be free, but there will be a small charge for materials such as 3D printer filament and vinyl printer materials.
“This makerspace is just like any other branch of the library,” Stephens said. “Anyone with a library card can come in. If you don’t have a library card, we can get one for you.”
“The only difference is we do charge for cost, so that we can replace those materials,” he said. “If you bring in your own materials, there’s no charge.”
The Maker Lab will also feature an audio room with a complete recording studio, meeting rooms and a full size classroom, complete with a Smartboard and classroom set of laptops.
“We have an audio room, so people can record music if they bring in their own instruments,” Stephens said. “We’ll have a standard-size classroom available for teaching lessons.”
The Maker Lab is located on the second floor of the Hobart Center for County Government on Adams Street. More information can be found online at www.tmcpl.org.
“A makerspace was included in the original plans when the library began looking at building a new space back in 2018,” TMCPL Executive Director Rachelle Via said. “Since we are unable to expand at the 419 W. Main St. location due to our lot size, we essentially put what would have been the third floor of a new library at the Hobart Government Center.”
“It’s not the perfect scenario, since it’s not all in the same building,” she said, “but it’s close, because we’re just across the street.
The library leases the Maker Lab space from the Miami County Commissioners, through an agreement similar to the one for the Miami County Health Department.
“They have been amazing property owners so far,” Via said. “They are extremely supportive, and they understand how important this space will be for the community.”
So far, the library has invested over $900,000 in the Maker Lab, Via said, including grants for software and display cases from The Troy Foundation and hand tools and safety gear from the Miami County Foundation. The rest is funded through the library’s Ada Pressman fund and other library funds.
“Ada Pressman was born in 1927 and grew up in Troy,” Via said. “She had many notable career accomplishments, including being the principal engineer for construction of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant south of Los Angeles.”
“She was known for mentoring other women engineers, since it wasn’t a popular career choice in the mid-20th century,” she said. “When she died in 2003, she willed a portion of her estate to the library. The library administration and board of trustees believe using her bequest is a fitting tribute to Ada Pressman.”
Several other local libraries are also operating Maker Labs and Makerspaces, Via said, including the Tipp City Public Library, the Centerville Public Library, the Middletown Public Library and the Greene County Public Library.
“Makerspaces are quite common in suburban and urban libraries, and we’re excited to bring one to Troy,” she said. “Libraries brought computers to the public back in the ‘80s, and they are making additional forms of technology available for public consumption now.”
“Today, libraries aren’t just a place for using resources, programs, and services, but also a place where patrons can be active creators too,” Via said.