Libraries are where curious minds venture to expand their intellectual horizons and exercise their imaginations.
To encourage such growth, the Georgetown branch of the Allen County Public Library recently opened a Maker Lab. Another Maker Lab is currently under construction at the Main branch. The purpose is to offer patrons opportunities to put the information they gather from the library to creative use.
The technology available in the Georgetown branch Maker Lab includes a 3-D printer, a vinyl cutter, two sewing machines with sergers, as well as a laptop lab with computer-aided design and image editing software such as Photoshop, a library news release said.
Uses for the 3-D printer, for example, can include designing and making toys and figurines, as well as replacement parts for various items. Those looking to design and cut-out images for bumper stickers, T-shirts and patches for jackets can use the vinyl cutter.
Before making use of the lab equipment, patrons must take free or low-cost classes to learn how to use the technology. For any class with a fee, the money will cover supplies used during the class, said Lisa Armato, manager of the Georgetown branch library, 6600 E. State Blvd.
The Georgetown branch will offer classes for 3-D printing, Photoshop use and sewing during May and June. A list of classes, times and dates can be found in the calendar at the Allen County Public Library website, http://tinyurl.com/3c6gbhp.
After being certified in use of the equipment, patrons can schedule time slots to use the labs on their own. However, use of a 3-D printer costs $1 per hour.
In addition to the 3-D printer available at Georgetown, library patrons also can use 3-D printers in Young Adult Services and Access Fort Wayne at the main library, 900 Library Plaza, and at the Tecumseh branch, 1411 E. State Blvd.
Once they are certified on the equipment, youth ages 12-18 can use the lab with library staff supervision. Children under 12 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
The library system spent about five months developing the Maker Lab from idea to reality at the Georgetown branch, Armato said.
Library Director Jeff Krull was looking for places to open Maker Labs, and Armato said she offered her branch as a location. MSKTD & Associates of Fort Wayne helped design the layout of the Maker Labs.