Coming Soon: Johnson County Library (KS) Makerspace

Thanks to Meredith Nelson, Business Reference Librarian at the Johnson County (KS) Library, I have now seen a 3D printer up close and personal! Meredith provided me with a sneak preview of the library’s brand new makerspace, which will soon be open to the public.

Why did the library decide to create the makerspace?

“We wanted to create a space where people have the opportunity to learn and access software and technology that is prohibitively expensive for the average home/household and to provide a space where patrons can work collaboratively on projects and acquire new skill sets—whether for hobby or work. It’s essentially a place to play around with new ideas and tools as well as have the opportunity to see if there’s something in there that an individual may really click with.”

Who is the makerspace for?

The library’s makerspace is for anyone who wants to learn and use high end software to play or make things. The Johnson County Library is focusing on two specific audiences: small/micro business owners and young adults. The library anticipates small business owners using the space to create podcasts, to design a logo, etc. Programming examples for young adults will be discussed later in this article.

What does the makerspace include?

In addition to this initial inventory, the library plans to add more items as they are needed and requested.

“We want to see where it goes… where the interest lies… before we decide on a set program.”

Will there be training and programming?

Although DIY learning will be encouraged and expected, the library will also provide some assistance and programming.

Soldering: Assistance will be available to help people learn to solder. Initially this training will be provided as needed on-the-fly.

Maker Mondays: Every Monday from 5-9, the library will host an open house in the makerspace. This will provide people with an opportunity to look around, ask questions, and try things out.

Some Disassembly  Required: This is a program the library will host. People will be encouraged to bring things in to take apart and see how they work.

Lego Stop-Motion Animation Workshop:  In this program, teens will create a Lego stop-motion animation short. They will learn how to storyboard ideas, light and shoot videos, and then edit them using the Makerspace.

Make-a-Story:  This event is a makerSpace and Children's Book Week mash-up. Kids (ages K-6th and their families) can create book trailers and videos and more.


Is the library working with other groups in the community?

Meredith has connected with the KC Maker Faire organizers and the library will have a booth at this year’s event. She has also connected with HammerSpace, which is a large makerspace in the community, and with other fab labs in town. She hopes to connect with local schools and noted that the Blue Valley Schools have a large fab lab, too.

Groups within the library are also being encouraged to use the space. The elementia teen zine is creating their annual publication in the makerspace. The cosplay group is using a sewing machine in the makerspace. There’s potential for future collaborations here (like getting the cosplay group involved in creating Halloween costumes).

Will the library charge people for use of the space or the resources?

The library does not plan to charge for use of the space and resources. If use of the 3D printer becomes prohibitively expensive, it’s possible the library will start charging by weight, but in the beginning, they want to provide minimal restrictions.

Advice for others wanting to get started with creating a library makerspace?

We will check back in with Meredith and the Johnson County Library in a couple of months, to discover lessons learned and to hear stories about the makerspace once it has been open to the public for a while.

Meredith recommends:

Good luck, Johnson County Library, with your new makerspace adventure! We look forward to connecting with you again soon.