CTCC’s 2019 Project of the Year renews Cranberry’s library
Makerspaces have become all the rage in America’s schools over the past decade. Think of them as small workshops, outfitted with tools ranging from very high tech to no tech at all. What they share in common are work benches designed for collaboration and equipped for making things in a hands-on learning environment.
It’s an idea which has spread beyond the classroom to include private subscription makerspaces, foundation supported shops, commercial prototyping studios, and now public libraries. By next summer, Cranberry’s public library will be among them, thanks to its selection as CTCC’s 2019 Project of the Year.
What, exactly, do people make in a makerspace?
Practically anything. Projects typically include coding, 3-D printing, electronics, robotics, sewing, woodworking, and video along with much, much more. That mix can also change over time. But what is constant about makerspaces is that they create an environment for users of different ages to work either together, alone, or with outside experts to learn through experimentation and to have access to the tools they need for creative projects.
CTCC is working with library staff and outside consultants to define more precisely what Cranberry’s makerspace will look like and how it will work. Preliminary plans call for it to be built where the library’s public computers are currently situated, near the front window, and to relocate those PCs to where the reference volumes are now shelved. Today, with so much information available online, the library’s expensive collection of research books is largely unused. But the library’s user software will confirm which of those volumes remain and which get retired.
“We want to create a hub,” Library Director Leslie Pallotta said, explaining her interest in the makerspace idea. “We want people to see it. We want people to use it. People will have their curiosity peaked right away as they walk in: ‘Hey! What’s going on over there? Is that something I can do?’ ”
While creating a library makerspace will be the signature component of CTCC’s 2019 project, it is not the only one. Other library upgrades are also included. Among them: sliding doors to make the space more accessible, energy-efficient lighting, new carpeting, and an RFID system for tracking the library’s circulating collection.
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Forge Ahead: Library Makeover
For its fundraising effort, the project’s diverse elements are being bundled as “Forge Ahead: Library Makeover” – where the term ‘forge’ is both a tribute to the original use of the Municipal Center building as a metalworking factory, and a recognition of the library’s upcoming renovation through CTCC’s efforts.
Estimates of the project’s overall cost are in the $750,000 range. However, according to project leader Bruce Mazzoni, public libraries are considered grant-worthy institutions by a number of foundations and agencies with matching grants. Mazzoni is optimistic about raising those matching funds. “The library is one of those things that a lot of people relate to – young and old,” he said.