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at a glance
Maker Lab at the library’s downtown branch
What: Opening Day
When: June 4
Hours: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 1 to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Fees: Using the 3-D printer, $1 per hour
Patrons must take classes on how to use the technology before working in the lab. Patrons can then schedule a time to use the lab on their own.
Youth ages 12 to 18 can use the lab with library staff supervision once they have taken the instructional classes. Children under 12 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
For any class with a fee, the money will cover supplies used during the class. In addition to the 3-D printers available at the Georgetown, Tecumseh and Woodburn branches, library patrons also can use 3-D printers in Young Adult Services and Access Fort Wayne at the main library, 900 Library Plaza.
•For more information on the Downtown Maker Lab go to, or for Georgetown’s Maker Lab class calendar, go to
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Norman Compton, manager of Access Fort Wayne, shows a hot-air soldering iron in Allen County Public Library’s new Maker Lab.

Library provides tools for the inventor

Maker Labs give patrons gear for creative projects

Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
The staff of Access Fort Wayne is assembling a 3-D printer for use in library’s new Maker Lab for patrons to bring creations to life.

Imagine having an idea for a new widget and being able to go to the local library and find all the tools needed to design, create a prototype, market and sell your invention.

Imagine recording your own music, making a movie or designing a line of clothing.

Allen County Public Library will unveil its second Maker Lab on June 4 at the downtown branch. It follows the first Maker Lab that opened in April at the Georgetown branch.

A Maker Lab is what it sounds like – a high-tech laboratory for designing, creating and inventing. The new lab features multiple 3-D printers, six computer music stations, vinyl cutters, six computer music stations and access to Adobe Creative Suite software for graphic design, video editing, and web development. There are also several stations for those wishing to scan and edit family photos or convert old VHS movies into DVDs.

Patrons will be able to check out one of the library’s high-definition video cameras – after undergoing instructional training – shoot footage and then bring it back to compose and edit it in the Maker Lab, said Kay Gregg, library production coordinator at Access Fort Wayne and one of the instructors at the Maker Lab.

The Maker Lab provides all the tools for inventors, entrepreneurs, musicians, designers and artists that might be too cost-prohibitive to pursue on their own, but collectively, they’re attainable, Gregg said. “These resources are purchased by the community for the community.”

Many classes

Those who are technologically challenged need not worry – the library will offer classes on a variety of subjects, incluing how to scan and edit family photos, how to build a robot and how to be your own disc jockey and create your own beats.

Some of the classes to be offered this summer include Be Your Own DJ and Make Your Own Beats, Intro to Music Making, 3-D Printing, Electronic Circuit Design & Fabrication, How to Build a Robotic Car, How to Build a Robot, CAD Laser Printing and Making Circuit Boards.

At Georgetown, Maker Lab classes for June and July include 3-D printing, Adobe Photoshop, sewing, Adobe Illustrator, Arduino electronic LEDs and soldering.

About a dozen people can work in the lab at a time, said Norm Compton, the manager of Access Fort Wayne and the Maker Lab.

The fee to use the 3-D printer is $1 per hour.

“Other things are at no cost and we are trying to work toward that as a goal,” he said.

The main library also has a sewing machine and Georgetown has two serger machines, Compton said.

“As development continues, we will take the classes on the road,” he said. “We will go to other branches and hold workshops.”

Access Fort Wayne

Access Fort Wayne, a department of the Allen County Public Library since 1981, services a full production facility with two television studios and editing facilities, and originates three cable access television channels – two public channels and one government channel – from the first floor of the Main Library on both Frontier and Comcast cable.

“In essence, we’ve had a Maker Lab here for over 30 years called Studio E at Access Fort Wayne,” said Cheryl Ferverda, communications and development manager at the library. “Since 1981, the staff has been teaching patrons how to create their own programs.”

For that reason, it just made sense to have the staff of Access Fort Wayne instrumental in the design of the Maker Lab, Fervada said. “They were veterans of this, so it’s a natural extension of what they’ve been doing.”

The library has also had a partnership with TekVenture, a non-profit Fort Wayne company. TekVenture’s Maker Station mobile laboratory was moved to the library’s lot at Washington and Webster streets three years ago, where the staff provided laboratories and workshops for library employees and patrons.

Georgetown is still in the process of growing a crop of makers, Georgetown Branch Manager Lisa Armato said. “Thus far, people are mostly just taking classes and then afterward some come to practice. I think we will start to see people working independently later in the year,” she said.

Creativity at any age

3-D printing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a reel of plastic wire, which is biodegradable and compostable, Gregg said. A 3-D printed object is achieved by scanning an image of the object to be created which allows the printer to lay down successive layers of material until the entire object is created.

Even though the lab has not yet opened, some adults and teens have been working with the 3-D printers and other equipment available at Access Fort Wayne and through TekVenture.

“We had a Boy Scout troop who designed and made resin wheels for their robot team,” Gregg said.

Another boy, who was an avid gamer, designed and made 3-D copies of a device that attached to a smart phone and to free up the player’s fingers for easier game playing on the phone’s screen.

“He printed off his design for $3, took them to school and sold them to his gaming friends for $10,” Gregg said.

Other kids have created their own game pieces on the 3-D printer for Minecraft – a game about breaking and placing blocks, she said.

Early in the process, a friend of Access Fort Wayne, assistant manager Erik Möllberg, used the 3-D printer to design video-camera clamps for bike helmets, canoes and other spots where it was hard to hold a camera and shoot video, Möllberg said.

Georgetown has already witnessed the Maker Lab buzz.

“Everyone is very excited about all the new learning opportunities,” Armato said. “All of our classes are filling up, and we have waiting lists for some. We are seeing all ages, from 9-year-olds to senior citizens, learning side by side,” she said.

“This pleases me greatly, because providing a place for families and community members of all ages to learn together was my vision all along,” Armato said.