Belk Library unveils all-new Makerspace – The Appalachian

Aldo Sarabia

Attendees gather for the grand opening of the new Makerspace on the lower level of the Belk Library, September 8, 2022.

Belk Library’s all-new Makerspace, a design lab offering a variety of tools, resources, and equipment for projects of any size or scope, had its grand opening on Friday.

The Makerspace, located on the lower level of the library, houses 3D printers, vinyl and laser cutters, sewing machines, die-cutters, a heat press and more – all available for students and faculty.

Students were invited to attend an opening event at the Makerspace where they could interact with a number of stations and activities. These ranged from laser cut checkerboards and giant Jenga to custom printed mugs and tote bags. The open house event was hosted by library officials and lasted from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The new Makerspace 3D printers. The idea for the new space started as early as 2014. (Aldo Sarabia)

Attendee Cape Dickerson, a geologist and craftsman, spoke of the excitement surrounding the new facility and the potential it holds for future student projects.

“It’s a wonderful addition,” Dickerson said. “We can certainly make excellent use of it.”

Dickerson has expressed interest in using the Makerspace to create nameplates for several edible plants that grow on campus.

His plan, among many others, could come to fruition as App State joins other universities such as NC State in offering specialized equipment for design and production.

First-year graphic design student Kenzie Bruder was also excited about the possibilities.

“It gives people a space to be creative and open their minds to new things,” Bruder said. “It will attract more people, different crowds, and I think maybe it will also open up new relationships and new friends.”

Those who missed the grand opening will still have the opportunity to participate in various Makerspace activities throughout the coming week, according to an email from the library. Standard library hours apply to.

A sewing machine accessible to students and teachers in the new Makerspace of the Belk Library. (Aldo Sarabia)

Hannah Pope, the university’s emerging technologies librarian, said work on the new facility began as early as 2014.

“This true iteration of Makerspace, we were able to start about two years ago,” Pope said.

Pope said donor contributions, namely that of the Freiman family, were integral to financing the construction of the facility last summer. The Freimans are lifelong supporters of learning and the arts at App State, donating nearly $1 million to university libraries in honor of Larry Freiman’s passing last year.

The Makerspace is a continuation of the Idea Factory and the Inspire Maker Lab, two creative design programs run by the university in previous years. Pope said the Makerspace adheres to the discovery and fabrication principles of these programs while providing users with more diverse and advanced equipment to bring their ideas to life.

Pope added that there are currently plans to procure additional equipment further down the chain, including more 3D printers.

Anyone interested in using facility machinery should follow proper safety procedures. To better familiarize themselves with the individual machines, students and teachers can log on to AsUEarn and follow a short module prepared by Pope in advance. Pope intends to hold workshops where individuals can learn how to use 3D printers and other advanced tools. There will also be student workers on standby, ready to help as needed.

Pope stressed that the facility is a “welcoming” environment open to everyone, regardless of major, experience or skill level.

“Anyone can use this space. It’s for everyone. Even if someone thinks ‘I’ve never 3D printed before; there’s no way I can do that’, that’s not true,” Pope said. “I want it to be a very welcoming and inclusive space, which everyone can enter and use. And in the spirit of the Makerspace community, I hope it’s also a space where people can share ideas and grow – academically and creatively.

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