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Sunday, Nov 18, 2018
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Library creates county’s first ‘makerspace’

All winter long, Helen McDaniel had been peeking in the windows of the old computer lab at the Land O’ Lakes Library, watching it transform into the county’s first “makerspace.”

So when the library held an open house last week for the new creative lab space, the Ohio native and her husband made sure to check it out. “This is just amazing,” she said, watching the library’s new 3-D printer at work.

“They told me they’re going to get sewing machines, too,” McDaniel said. “Now that’s something I would be interested in.”

Pasco County is joining a national trend by setting aside space in public libraries for technical and creative arts.

“The library has always been about giving knowledge to the users,” said Sean McGarvey, a member of the library’s leadership team. “For the last hundred years that was in the form of books, but now that’s not necessarily the case.”

So makerspaces evolved where people can craft, invent, experiment with tools and learn skills such as coding and computer-aided design (CAD). Pasco’s new lab is now home base to the library’s high school robotic team — a nod to the county’s emphasis on STEAM education. It already has two 3-D printers, an auto-CAD computer and an Oculus Rift 3-D virtual reality headset for gaming.

“We’re still in the process of designing the space, but the idea is to create the opportunity for someone to take an idea from start to finish, and then to CAD it,” McGarvey said.

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Half of the lab space will be reserved for arts and crafts activities. In addition to the sewing machines, the lab will have paint supplies and a die cutter for scrapbooking. An empty storage room will be converted into a recording studio, and the library will buy two iMac computers outfitted with Photoshop and the full Adobe Suite.

“During our focus groups, we discovered that people are very interested in audio-visual and working with green screens,” McGarvey said.

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