The Library Makerspace Is Open in Richmond

Last fall, we received a wonderful donation to add to individual pieces of equipment and turn them into a cohesive Makerspace on the Richmond campus. Unlike many other such spaces, we concentrated on technology that would be helpful either in the ministries or in the scholarship of our community. By the end of January, we had a recording studio, a digital video conversion station for analog visual media, a paper crafting area with a poster printer, and a purposeful play area for parents and stressed students. We even had a small 3-D printer and a matboard cutter that even cuts glass. It was wonderful, and we began making plans to have an official opening in April.


And then, March happened. And COVID-19. And 2020 turned into something of a nightmare. Morton Library in Richmond closed, which means that we finally finished the Makerspace just in time to close it. We went home, and no one was allowed in the building for several months. Even once we reopened to appointments, in-person sessions with patrons were limited to simple circulation interactions as we explored different ways to provide more normal services. With the new semester, we were ready to add a little more well-distanced interaction, and began to make occasional individual appointments with students, faculty, and staff. Yet, with everything as discombobulated as it still is, it’s easy to ignore that the Library is not only open to appointments, but so is most of the neat equipment that is now available in the IRC.

While patrons are still not encouraged to linger in the Library, current students, faculty and staff members who need to record can reserve and borrow portable studio equipment, or our studios in a bag, for a week, although these must be returned in person. They may also use the studio itself for brief recordings, although we can’t allow extended usage. The time must be scheduled on the Library’s SignUpGenius, and the Makerspace is only available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The IRC is staffed at that time, so that we can provide support with the equipment and help with design when necessary.

What else is open in the Makerspace? The die-cut machine is accessible, as well as all of our paper cutting dies; however, patrons do need to bring their own paper. In fact, the die cut machine, since it is open to the public generally, can be used by experienced patrons even if the IRC staff isn’t there, although we do ask that they make an appointment with us before they use it for the first time this semester. Similarly, the video conversion station is open to the general public for short videos that are less than 30 minutes, although we need to remind patrons that the room is small and enclosed, so we do not want them to linger.

The poster printer and poster laminator are bit available in the Digital Learning Lab, and both easily work with sizes up to 24″ wide. When patrons sign up for them, please let us know; the laminator needs to warm up, and it’s the best use of all of our times to have it ready and waiting. We also ask that if patrons need something small printed on our 3D printer, that they send us the file so that they can pick it up when they visit the IRC. Unfortunately, the Purposeful Play area is closed, as there is no effective way to keep the supplies disinfected on a regular basis.

All in all, we really want to encourage patrons to come use our Makerspace, even with the safety restrictions and although we still haven’t had an official opening. After all, as fun as parties are, the real purpose of the equipment is to be used. Sign up for the Makerspace appointment, let us know what you are doing, and we will see you in the IRC!