Turning A New Page

Prendergast Library’s Makerspace An Example Of The Facility’s Expanding Role In The Community

A group of school students are pictured in the James Prendergast Library’s Makerspace. Submitted photos

Over the next year, look for this monthly column about the Prendergast Library, to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes, and to understand how the library is evolving to meet the diverse needs of our community.

What exactly goes on in the library’s new Makerspace? Read here to find out.

“So what is a makerspace?”

In the months since the library’s newest addition opened, we’ve heard that question time and time again. This comes as no surprise – after all, Prendergast offers the only makerspace in Jamestown, and the modern “maker” trend only took off in the past decade or so.

So…what is a makerspace?

A stop-action film is pictured in the midst of filming in the Prendergast Library’s Makerspace.

Simply put, a makerspace is an environment designed for creativity, experimentation, and collaboration. These spaces emphasize STEAM-based learning, which incorporates science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Open to all ages, our library’s makerspace is sort of a science lab, kind of an art studio, and a whole lot of “let’s try it and see what happens.”

Walk up the stairs into the makerspace on any given day and you might see kids (and adults!)competing to build the tallest Lego tower, creating PokÈmon figurines with the 3-d printer, designing wallets out of Duct tape, or programming Dash and Dot, our friendly library robots – all with the guidance of makerspace staff, who design activities and oversee the space.

If you hear the sound of sirens emanating from upstairs, it just means someone’s figured out how to complete an electrical circuit to create a burglar alarm. Don’t worry if you walk into the room and witness a lightsaber battle – we’ve got a green screen and intergalactic battles are always fun to film.

It all might look like fun and games, but kids and adults who spend time exploring and experimenting are learning powerful new skills the whole time. Our makerspace is a different sort of classroom, one where there is no fear of failing and instead, the freedom to try and fail, and try again. As a result, spending time in a makerspace fosters confidence, creativity, and curiosity – it encourages kids to ask “how?” and “why?” and allows for independent, unimpeded problem solving.

The makerspace is just one of the ways that Prendergast is moving forward, and changing to meet the needs of our community. Not too long ago, robots and green screens would have seemed completely out of place in a library. But libraries are about much more than solely books now. We’ve still got plenty of those; even an entire collection of books in the Makerspace itself. When a child is seeking new inspiration for his Lego project, there’s a book of Lego challenges ready to peruse.

The 3-D printer in the Prendergast Library’s Makerspace is pictured.

The library has plenty of space for both books and tech, so we can offer our community modern technology and timeless texts all in one place. We’re focused on the future here – on your future, and how we can help you learn and grow, whether you’re trying to find a new favorite author, or learn how to use your new smartphone.

The makerspace is just one of the many ways that the library is evolving. Tune in next month to learn more.

A computer set up for scratch coding in the Prendergast Library’s Makerspace is pictured.