Makerspaces have existed in one way or another for a long time. In general, a makerspace is described as a collaborative space for sharing, exploring and creating with our hands and tools. They’ve been called hackerspaces, fab labs, and tech shops. The first public library to create a makerspace was started by way of a graduate school project in 2010 in upstate New York and from there it took off. In Kansas City, there are a handful of makerspaces including Hammerspace, Maker Village KC and the Black & Veatch MakerSpace at the Johnson County Library. We spoke to the Johnson County Library’s newest facilitator, Ayah Abdul-Rauf on what you can find at the Makerspace and what to expect on your visit.
The JOCO Makerspace first opened up in 2013 and rebranded in 2016 as the Black & Veatch MakerSpace at Central Resource Library. With the continued funding and support from Black and Veatch, the library added additional tools and programs including a collaboration and with a STEM partnership with Black & Veatch. At the makerspace, you can find 3D printing, CNC machines, audio-visual devices, sewing machines for fabrication and a whole lot more.
As Ayah put it, “You can make a tent, a scrapbook, a computer, a movie–, just about anything you want in a makerspace. It’s an adaptable creative space shared among participants, often at no cost or for a nominal fee.” We asked Ayah what the difference is between a makerspace and a hackerspace and she told us that hackerspaces “are very similar, though participants there are focused almost exclusively on computer science and programming. Those activities are welcome in a makerspace, but if you’re also interested in digital fabrication, textiles or other digital art, a makerspace is more likely to accommodate that.” At the Black & Veatch makerspace, the community has the added bonus of offering more classes and workshops on specific mediums than a space that’s unattached to a library.
One thing to know before going: anyone and everyone are welcome to take advantage of the makerspace. There is always at least one staff member available who has experience with the machines, and Ayah told us that many of the makerspace staff also have a particular skill or medium that they specialize in. You will need to reserve certain machines such as walk-in laser cutting, 3d printing, and a CNC router.
There are also additional tools to take advantage of. Ayah said “we also have an excellent fully equipped sound booth and a green room with a flat panel light kit for audiovisual projects. On top of that, we have computers set aside exclusively for creative work; they not only have the Adobe Creative Suite but lots of other popular software like Final Cut Pro, Audacity, and Rhino” So if you are looking for a place to innovate, drop by the Black & Veatch MakerSpace. If you have any questions visit the Black & Veatch MakerSpace website for more information and get creating!