Tualatin gives thumbs-up to library 'makerspace'
Tualatin is moving forward with plans to create a makerspace — a specialized section inside the Tualatin Public Library — earmarked for creative endeavors.
On Jan. 25, the Tualatin City Council gave Tualatin the go-ahead to move forward with construction of the $425,000 project, with funding coming from a combination of city funds and a contribution from the Tualatin Library Foundation.
"The project requires remodeling a portion of the library, including a reduction in shelving, to create room for the makerspace," Jerianne Thompson, the city's library director, told the council. "We will build a flexi-use, multi-purpose room of 735 square feet adjacent to the teen room with a capacity of 20 to 30 people."
Thompson told the council that STEAM programs — an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics — have been an integral part of the library for many years, supporting both strategic goals of the library and the council.
"We now have an opportunity to reimagine library space to create a makerspace, a collaborative creative space where people can create physical objects and digital media and where the library can host STEAM programs," Thompson said.
Once completed, the facility will have counters on two sides of the room with cabinetry and defined work spaces. Exhaust hoods will be installed for fumes created by both a 3D printer and a laser cutter.
Thompson said the space is designed for students and adults where they can be trained on, and have access to, equipment such as vinyl cutters, sewing machines, a small tabletop kiln for ceramics and jewelry, and a computer with media creation software.
"Through the makerspace, Tualatin Library seeks to enhance the equity of technology access for our community with a particular focus on use," Thompson said. "Expanding access to learning opportunities for all is one of the most important roles that public libraries play in the modern age."
She said the timing of the project is ideal since the library is closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said construction is expected to begin in late February, with completion planned for the end of May.
"This will be a great addition to the library," said Mayor Frank Bubenik, noting that although the council had questions in 2018 when Thompson first approached them regarding removal of library space for the makerspace site, he is satisfied that the space in question contained low-circulation items.
"This is such, I want to say cool, (but) that just doesn't even begin to encompass how creative and wonderful I think this is and such an opportunity to really stretch the way that we think about education and learning and opportunities for the community," said Council President Nancy Grimes.
Thompson said plans are to hire a STEAM librarian this spring. The library will recruit volunteers to help teach as well.
In 2016, Tualatin was one of seven finalists nationwide to receive a $100,000 grant as part of the America's Best Communities contest. That money was used to create a mobile makerspace trailer, which will still be used for outreach programs around the city, said Thompson.
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