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The new facility allows patrons to discover how technology can be used for creative purposes.

PMG PHOTO: SCOTT KEITH - Gretchen Kolderup is Youth Librarian at the St. Helens Public Library.The St. Helens Public Library is set for a grand opening on Oct. 9 of its dedicated Makerspace, which will be free for all ages.

Youth librarian Gretchen Kolderup has been busy putting the pieces together for the event, to be held from 10 a.m. until noon.

Kolderup said the Makerspace is a way for people to get hands-on with new technology for creative purposes.

"We've been doing STEM and maker programming for kids, teens and adults for a long time," Kolderup said. "I, in my role as youth librarian, started doing some hands-on do-it-yourself programs in 2017. Those were really successful and well received."

Then came the Library of Things, launched in late 2019, letting people check out equipment to take home.

All of this success led to the creation of a Makerspace.

"It's a dedicated space in the Columbia Center," where the library is housed, Kolderup explained.

"We have all sorts of really cool equipment that people can come and use to make things," she added.

The Makerspace includes a laser cutter, 3-D printers, a sewing machine, hand tools and a photo scanner.

The free Makerspace will be open to the public. There will, however, be a cost for certain projects to cover the cost of materials.

Visitors will not need a library card and they don't have to live in St. Helens. No registration fee will be required.

The Makerspace is for all ages.

"I'm the youth librarian," Kolderup said, "but this is for grownups and kids."

For the younger folks, the Makerspace will offer stop-motion animation software on iPads, a button maker, a sticker maker and a construction kit where youngsters can build things out of cardboard.

Older visitors may be attracted to the laser cutter and 3-D printer, among other gadgets and gizmos.

Funding for the Makerspace came from a number of sources, including $40,000 from the city of St. Helens and allocated ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) funding.

Other funding sources including $20,000 from the Columbia Community Foundation, a $20,000 grant from NW STEM Hub, a $3,000 grant from The Friends of the St. Helens Public Library, and a $2,500 private donation of equipment and money.

The project was also made possible through non-monetary support from the Columbia Community Foundation, NW STEM Hub, the Friends of the St. Helens Public Library, the St. Helens Library Board, St. Helens Public Works Department, Columbia Learning Center Board and the St. Helens City Council.

Kolderup expects the Makerspace to benefit the public.

"I recently learned that the room that the Makerspace is in now used to be the Columbia Technology Center, when the building first opened," Kolderup said. "It was a computer lab where people of all skill levels could come and learn how to use a computer."

Kolderup continued, "I feel like 25 years later, we are doing the 2021 version of that. We have lots of different technology that people might not have in their homes and might not be able to afford. We're really excited to be able to share those with the community so they can learn how to use that equipment and make things that they're proud of.

"It really is another way for us to help the community unleash their creative potential, building on the successes of all of the things that we've been doing up until now."

Kolderup is happy to be able to unveil the Makerspace on Saturday, Oct. 9.

"I'm enormously excited about this," she said. "It's something we've been working toward for a long time. But it's also reflective of community interest and community support. There are so many different people and organizations that came together to make this possible, and I'm just so excited to be able to finally unveil it."


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