The library is the place to go to replace your ID card, cram for your finals, but it’s also a place for you to… make stickers?
That’s what the Makerspace in MacEwan’s library is for: to make. And to learn how to make.
But what is a Makerspace? You might have heard the term thrown around if you’ve been by your local public library in recent years, or maybe you’ve walked past MacEwan’s own. A Makerspace, at its heart, is a place for exploration and creation. It aligns with the key principle of libraries, which is to provide barrier-free access to information, creation, and resources.
While each Makerspace hosts different services, MacEwan’s Makerspace has a myriad of equipment and resources for any MacEwan student and staff to use, such as:
- 3D Printing
- 3D Scanning
- Vinyl Cutting
- Heat Press
- Sewing machine
- Knitting looms
- Button maker
- Borrowing: 360 cameras, Raspberry Pi and Arduino kits, GoPRos
The most important part about all these services is that it doesn’t cost anything.That’s right: it’s free with your tuition. Filament for 3D printers are available onsite (the Makerspace also now has food-safe filament!), and you’ll have to bring your own t-shirt/tote bag/whatever material you want to use for the Heat Press and sewing machines, but otherwise, everything else is good to go.
So how does it all work? I spoke to some of the Tech Tutors to get a feel for how to get started, and to get an idea of what kind of projects are worked on.
“About 80% of the projects are personal projects,” Claudia, a tech tutor in the Makerspace tells me. Some of which include Dungeons & Dragons projects, figurines, laptop decals, and clothes mending. Although, there are some class-related projects as well – Alem, another tech tutor, shared with me how he used the vinyl cutter to make custom Popsockets for a business class once. The possibilities are endless.
Featured projects and ideas are shared at the Makerspace’s instagram account, @macewan.makerspace, which the tutors eagerly encouraged me to share. (Can confirm: There’s lots of cool ideas there!)
Walk-ins are the only way to access the Makerspace at this time, although appointments for classes or large groups can be made through the library website. “You can come in with nothing,” Abraar says, “and we can start right from the beginning.” When you come into the Makerspace, a tech tutor like Abraar can walk you through the entire process of services like 3D printing, for example.
The folks at the Makerspace know that it can be intimidating, but they want to remind those who are thinking about coming in that they understand the learning process. “We’ve gone through it ourselves,” says Abraar, “And you can explore the space at your own pace.”
When I asked all the tech tutors what they wanted people to know most about the Makerspace, Claudia noted the practicality of it. “Students create different things in different ways that they haven’t thought of before,” she said. “It’s useful skills for their professional and personal futures.” And Kaeli-Rae emphasized with a smile how important the space really is for a lot of folks coming through. “It’s so rewarding seeing people learn a new skill,” she says. “And keep coming back to try more.”
The Makerspace is open for walk-ins in the library in room 6-203, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Makerspace can be contacted at email@example.com.
Photo from macewan.ca