Lincoln County Public Library invites public to ‘come and create’ in new Makerspace

STANFORD – Technology is consumed by most on a daily basis, but the Lincoln County Public Library Director is hoping to use grant funding to help children become more than just consumers, but creators. 
Thanks to a $37,400 grant from the Steel Reese Foundation, LCPL is creating a new Makerspace where programs and activities will be focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). 
“Different libraries have different concepts of the Makerspace,” said LCPL Director Amanda Gearhart. “We went and toured Jessamine County’s new Makerspace areas and talked to them about their kits and we also went to the East Side Branch of the Lexington Public Library and checked out what they have.” 
Gearhart said while Jessamine County’s library focused on technology with a recording studio, green screen and production tools, the Lexington library focused on providing space for the community to create by hosting activities like quilting and costume-making. 
Libraries have the freedom of creating a makerspace that they feel fits the community and its needs, Gearhart said. 
While the LCPL already offers a wide variety of programs, including at the locals schools, Gearhart said she realizes not every child can stay after school for the 21st Century Program and not every child can make it to the library at the specified program times. 
That is why some of the grant funding will be used to develop learning kits to go along with programs offered that can be checked out by families, individuals and children to take home and do the same kind of activities that they might do at the library, Gearhart said. 
“We want our children to be creators, not just consumers,” she said. “They grow up with laptops and smart phones but they don’t understand how the technology works. So we want to give them a strong foundation in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects so that they can pursue those careers, which are a growing area.”
With the grant funding split into two years, Gearhart said the first year will be focused on technology and engineering while the second year will focus on science and math. 
“We are funded for two years but all of the equipment and the things that will be developed with it, the intention is that those will go on after the two years of funding,” she said. 
Gearhart said the plan, which is currently underway, is to repurpose the teen room. 
“We have a green screen wall and as soon as we get it cleaned up people will be welcome to come in and try it out with photos or video,” Gearhart said. 
When finished remodeling, Gearhart said the library plans to place computers in the room dedicated to video production and photography and in the second year of the grant, the library will receive a 3D printer. 
The grant also provided funding to hire retired science teacher Jane Vanhook as a part-time assistant children’s librarian to help develop science-based programs. 
Vanhook has already begun working alongside LCPL Children’s Librarian Amanda Wheeler who said the programs they have developed so far have been well-received at local schools. 
“We are working with Stanford and Highland Elementary and the middle school right now and doing a once-a-month science, stem-based program,” Wheeler said. “Also, last Friday, we started our Fizz Boom Fun (program) for preschoolers.” 
Wheeler said LCPL will host similar science-based programs for ages three-to-six years old on the second Friday of every month at 11 a.m. 
“We had a good turnout for the first one,” Wheeler said. “It’s hands-on and gives them some good science experience.” 
Vanhook, who is helping develop the in-library and take-home kits, said she hopes to put together a variety of do-it-yourself kits that individuals can either explore at LCPL or possibly check out and explore at home. 
“You could do all kinds of different things, design your own paper airplanes and have different weights of paper in the kit, maybe some diagrams they could start with and then design their own,” Vanhook said. “That’s the whole idea, for them to design their own.”
Wheeler said some kits might also be activities with instructions that include a list of everyday household items that can already be found in most homes. 
A new “Science Stop” on the first floor of LCPL near the Makerspace is also funded by the grant and will change monthly, Wheeler said. 
“Right now it’s pipe cleaners and they can make a three-dimensional standing tree,” she said. “They can leave it here or they can take it with them and we’re going to change that out monthly so there’s something different for them to do in the library.”
Wheeler said the Science Stop goes hand-in-hand with the Makerspace and is located in the same area. 
“They’ll be able to do something there at that table and then hopefully that gets them into the makerspace working on other things too,” she said. 
The Science Stop table is available during all open library hours with materials also ready to be used by anyone at any time, Wheeler said. 
By the end of October, the Makerspace should be complete and ready for the public to explore, she added. 
“When the room is open there will be a mixture of things that are available to anyone any time that the library is open and then we’ll have a schedule of programs so they’ll know what other kinds of things maybe can’t be left our for everyone but some specific programs they can come and do,” Wheeler said. 
Gearhart said the goal is to create 40 kits over the next two years, as well as develop 48 new programs per year in the library. 
“We also want to provide at least 36 programs out in the community at schools, daycares, preschools and after school programs,” she said. 
On Oct. 31, Gearhart said the public is invited to come to the library before 6 p.m. to receive a treat and enjoy the new green screen.
Gearhart said the library will have a selfie stick and there are several smart phone apps, like “Green Screen Lite” for example, that can be downloaded and used to create all kinds of different scenes on the green screen. 
“They can take some pictures of their kids in their Halloween costumes and pick all kinds of backgrounds,” she said.