Skip Navigation
Back to Navigation

ACPL Maker Labs

Contact: Lisa Armato, larmato@acpl.info
Community Partners: TekVenture Incorporated: TekVenture Maker Station

Description

Allen County Public Library's four year relationship with TekVenture Incorporated, a local non-profit "Art & Technology Lab" and maker space, provided a rich experience of community partnership that inspired and informed the efforts of the Library in creating their Maker Labs for patrons. With Library sponsorship, TekVenture Maker Station developed and provided over one hundred fifty workshops and demonstrations for patrons and the general public, from teens to senior citizens, on topics such as "Designing for CNC Machining," "Scanning for 3D Printing" and "Welding for Women." Skilled local citizen-makers, from kinetic artist code-writers to glass artists and electronic music synthesists, were recruited to present workshops that enlightened and engaged the public with the makers and skills-learning opportunities in their midst.

As the "prototype" for the Library, the TekVenture Maker Station was equipped with 3D printers, CNC machine tools and router, injection molding and vacuum forming machines and mini laser engraver as well as soldering stations and many hand tools. The two Maker Labs that the Library has opened, located at their Georgetown and Main branches, provide access to "clean" prototyping tools and are equipped with 3D printers, electronics stations, computer graphics tools, AV-to-digital image conversion stations, vinyl cutters and sewing machines. TekVenture, now repurposing a 10,000 sq. ft. building near to the Library, will provide Library patrons and the public 24-hour access to a broad range of commercial duty prototyping machines, extending patron experiences inspired at the Library Maker Labs.

Outcomes

From the very early days of Library interest in maker spaces, Allen County Public Library and TekVenture operated a well-equipped and volunteer-staffed working prototype of a maker space. Enriched by extensive patron-oriented workshop programming, including two community-wide events shared by this partnership, the Chain Reaction Challenge (a Rube Goldberg®-like competition) and the Fort Wayne Regional Maker Faire® powered by TekVenture, the Library capitalized on an excellent early opportunity to develop library-based maker spaces, an audience of interested makers, and ultimately its own Maker Labs.

At least two commercial products have emerged from the TekVenture Maker Station/ACPL alliance developed from entrepreneurs accessing the tools and services provided by TekVenture. The Georgetown Maker Lab is being used by over 70 independent makers a month, and the main library’s Maker Lab has close to 200 independent users monthly.

As a result of these and more experiences, this Library partnership with the community-based TekVenture Incorporated has demonstrated an impact on design and manufacturing in our community.

One goal of this new alliance is to provide training in S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics,) subjects to teachers and educators so they are better qualified to help students (and their parents) understand STEAM topics mandated by State education Standards.