Monroe library’s Makerspace opens doors to a new world of creativity

The Makerspace provides a creative outlet for patrons of Edith Wheeler Memorial Library, 733 Monroe Turnpike.

MONROE, CT — In an era of digital information and instantaneous online entertainment, the library may be at the back of most people’s minds. But in fact, public libraries possess a number of conveniences and amenities that are still relevant in our modern day. One of them happens to be Edith Wheeler Memorial Library’s “Makerspace.”

Take a right while entering the library and you will see the glass encased area known as the Makerspace, an area that allows guests to use a number of specialty machines to create or craft nearly any personal item within the visitor’s desire.

The Edith Wheeler Memorial Library website describes the space as, “a place where community members can gather to collaborate, create, learn and invent in a safe space using tools and technologies that they may not otherwise have access to.”

A $93,000 donation from the Monroe Lions Club to the Friends of the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library made the Makerspace and cafe possible.

Included in the Makerspace is a Cricut Explore Air 2 (and other smaller Cricut brand machines), a Brother Embroidery Machine, a Glowforge, a Flashforge 3D Printer, a Jewelry Maker, a VHS-DVD Converter, and finally a photo scanner. 

Even if you do not possess a license to use one of the more complex machines, with an appointment anyone with a library card can use the machines with proper guidance by a Makerspace librarian. If you have a proper license then no appointment is necessary (except for the Glowforge which requires staff supervision even with a license).

“You can sign up and register on our website in the events calendar. You type in whatever Monday you’re open and see if there are spots available,” said Carmela Pham, the adult/teen services librarian who is in charge of the Makerspace.

“We only usually have the next registrations open a month beforehand because they do fill up quickly,” she said. “But we do have a waitlist as well to dip into in case someone were to cancel or reschedule.”

Currently the Makerspace is only available for appointments on the aptly titled “Makerspace Mondays” which account for nearly every Monday at Edith Wheeler.

The previously mentioned Cricut is a small and smart and popular cutting machine in the Makerspace capable of cutting vinyl, cardstock, and more. The Cricut branded machines can help make personal items like bags, personalized mugs, and even iron on designs to fabric. Materials for projects are available at the library but are not free. Pricing varies, and can be found on the library’s website.

The glowforge is another cutting machine, but is much more powerful in comparison to the Cricut.

“I call it the Cricut on steroids,” said Pham.

Unlike the Cricut which uses a blade to cut materials, the Glowforge uses a laser and is able to cut wood, acrylic and thin metal. In addition, not only can the Glowforge cut but it can also engrave designs.

“The majority of people that come in use this machine tend to do a lot of engraving and most of the time it’s cutting boards. That’s the main, popular item for the Glowforge,” said Pham. 

The Cricut and the Glowforge are two of the most popular machines used in the Makerspace. That is not to say that the 3D printer does not receive its fair share of attention.

Makerspace regular Doug Lash uses the printer to create divot tools for golf that allow him to repair the green after a ball lands.

Lash said he uses the MakerSpace “at least once a week,” adding, “I won’t tell how many I made.”

Lash’s use of the space exemplifies the essence of the Makerspace, somewhere the community can come together to create.

“I make them and then I give them away,” he said. “I make them as a fun gift for the people I play with.”

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