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ACPL Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary of Maker Labs

(FORT WAYNE, IN) – The Allen County Public Library (ACPL) is proud to announce the 10-year anniversary of its Maker Labs, marking a decade of providing hands-on learning opportunities to the community. The Library is using the opportunity not only celebrate the success of the current Maker Labs, but to also announce the launch of three new mini Maker Labs, expanded Maker programming, and the intention to relocate the existing Maker Lab at Main to a space with a larger footprint.

 

In the spring of 2014, the ACPL opened its flagship Maker Lab at the Main Library, as well as, a Maker Lab at the Georgetown Branch. The innovative spaces boasted cutting-edge 3-D printers, audio/video recording equipment, craft machines, and more available to the public. Over the years, the Main Maker Lab has served an average of 950 to 1350 patrons each month and provided hundreds of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) programs to the Allen County Community for free.

 

“We are proud to have been an early Maker space in Allen County where artists, entrepreneurs, and innovators could gather to explore and tinker,” said ACPL Maker Lab Manager Norm Compton. “We’ve been instrumental in connecting people to equipment they couldn’t otherwise afford and inspiring people to try something new.”

 

Over the years, the Library’s Maker Lab spaces have only grown in popularity. From 2021 to present, it has experienced a 42% increase in visitors and in the most recent quarter, the Maker Lab at Main expanded its programming, offering 28 programs. Among these programs were Virtual Reality programs – the first of their kind in the ACPL system.

 

According to Compton, the Maker Lab is a space where creativity is not only permitted, it thrives. “This is a space where you can do everything from dreaming up a new invention, to recording an album demo, or preserving home movies. There is something for everyone!”

 

In 2022, the Library received ARPA grant funds through the City of Fort Wayne to purchase new equipment and expand the Maker concept to more locations. The Library took this opportunity to begin a systemwide approach to Maker for the future. In 2023, the Library outfitted “mini” Maker Labs at the Hessen Cassel, Pontiac, and Shawnee branches. These locations now offer 3D printers, laminators, Cricut vinyl cutters, heat press machines, sewing machines, and badge makers to the public. Following extensive training, library staff began leading public programs using the new equipment in March. Earlier this month, Shawnee, Hessen Cassel, and Pontiac’s mini Maker Labs began offering open lab hours for patrons to use the equipment for their own projects.

 

Last year, the ACPL shared it’s 2024-28 strategic plan "Allen County's Window to Lifelong Learning and Discovery," which included a strategic goal of designing functional, friendly spaces including an expansion of the Main Maker Lab and services. Toward that end, the Library embarked on planning for the renovation of the space vacated by Dunkin’ Donuts to house a larger, more accessible, and more flexible Maker space. This move will allow for the transformation of the space into a modern art, science, and production studio fostering growth in the years to come.

 

Beyond expanding across the system and relocating the lab within the Main Library, the ACPL has also invested in staffing to support the work of the Maker Lab including the creation of a full-time Maker Lab Guide and a systemwide Programs and Partnerships Specialist focused on Maker programming and services beyond Main. Each mini Maker Lab location also has designated staff who have received additional Maker training.

 

“We are so excited to see a renewed focus on all things Maker and to see resources extend across the system. It has already generated excitement among our staff and patrons,” said Kerstin Glaess, Programs and Partnerships Specialist. “The Maker spirit is one of innovation, exploration, and evolution. It makes sense that our services, spaces, and staffing of our Maker Labs would reflect this spirit. The current vision will allow us to grow with the community and remain nimble as technology and demands changes over the years.”  

 

For more information about ACPL's Maker Labs, programs, and available equipment please visit acpl.info/maker-labs.

 

About the Allen County Public Library

The Allen County Public Library (ACPL) has fostered lifelong learning and discovery in northeast Indiana for more than 125 years. The ACPL consists of fourteen branches throughout Allen County, serving more than one million visitors per year. The ACPL’s collection includes more than 2.7 million items, with a circulation total of 4.2 million items borrowed annually. It also houses The Genealogy Center, the nation’s largest public genealogy research center, and The Rolland Center for Lincoln Research, consisting of more than 30,000 artifacts related to President Abraham Lincoln.

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abc
Jul 05

I'm glad to learn of the ACPL Maker Lab concept. I didn't know it existed and will look into it further.

There is a typographical error in paragraph 1, sentence 2. The word "to" was omitted. The line reads, "The Library is using the opportunity not only celebrate..." but should read, "The Library is using the opportunity TO not only celebrate..."


PLEASE DELETE THIS COMMENT. I just want to mention the typo discreetly.

Tom

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