WOOSTER -- Craftsmanship isn't necessarily a duty or even a skill associated with library employees, but Dave Tenney and his facilities management department never got the memo.
Their workshop in the basement of the Wayne County Public Library's Operations Center is a going concern, turning out tables, shelves and even a knitting machine. And in the process, becoming part of the "makers movement."
Their efforts, which are integrated into their regular duties in the facilities department, have saved the library thousands of dollars, said director Jennifer Shatzer, recalling how the entrepreneurial effort started.
Shatzer associated the beginning of the new "maker" endeavor with saving a broken 1987 microwave.
"We printed parts (with a 3-D printer)," Tenney said, adding, it worked. "It's still warming up things."
The library endeavor is part of what Shatzer has described as a nationwide trend toward the "making" or "remaking" mindset – "to find creative ways of reusing and/or re-making things. Libraries are perfect settings for Makerspaces," she said, both for the library’s unofficial workshop and for programs which give patrons the opportunity to create their own projects.
The "workshop" business picked up when staff members came up with ways to use wooden book shelves left over from remodeling the Operations Center, which previously served as the central library. Scrap wood turned into building supplies.
When Tenney and his staff made molding or pieces of furniture from the bundles of wood and stained the recycled pieces to match the rest of the building, "you couldn't tell it (was different)," Shatzer said, adding, many of the pieces look as if they were purchased.
One of Tenney's multiple creations is the table underneath the interior book drop at the main library, Shatzer said. He also made the round clock above the copy machine. "All he had to buy was the mechanics of it."
Tenney highlighted as well the movable display case with slat walls on four sides used in the downtown Wooster library's reference section.
"I’m going to guess you made this cart," Shatzer said to Tenney, pointing out a receptacle bearing a cache of pieces of wood.
"There is a craft in there somewhere," she joked.
One of the more unusual pieces created in the library's workshop is a red, white and blue "balloon blower upper," Tenney said, made from PVC pipe and a rubber plumbing cap. "I got to artistically paint it."
But taking the proverbial cake in terms of an atypical items fashioned in the unofficial construction department is the circular knitting machine in progress in the hands of technology associate Jason Ferrell, who has been following a pattern found online in order to make a scarf printer for a library program.
"Each branch (of the library) has a knitting group," said Rachel Fichter, the library’s emerging technology director, calling this project "a good way to engage people."
"Don’t be surprised," said Shatzer, pointing out the machine can print names on material, if at the next meeting of the board of trustees staff members are wearing scarves emblazoned with the letters WCPL for Wayne County Public Library.
Ferrell’s idea for the gadget and its use for projects was "a good fit," Fichter said,
Ferrell said the knitting machine will probably be one of just about a dozen made around the world.
"We can find the designs for these (kinds of) things and print out the pieces," Shatzer said.
On a tour of the upper floor of the Operations Center, Tenney’s office was one of the featured stops.
He actually made it himself, Shatzer said. "This was all open," she said of the space. Tenney and his associates "made it look like (the office) was always here."
"It started off as being cheap — saving money," said Tenney of the basement workshop, but apparently it has been gratifying in other ways as well.
"It’s new every day," he said, with the most recent gadget generated just catching his eye as he spoke.
"You’re witnessing the birth," said Ferrell, of magnets "made out of old hard drives."
The workshop coincides with the library’s initiation of Makerspace programs throughout the system.
Shatzer has been promoting the use of Makerspaces for libraries "because we have always been about fostering learning …I see it as a natural progression for us."
Makerspace development grew out of STEM programming, including the library’s popular robotics units,and progressed to incorporate LEGO Mindstorms, LEGO WeDos, EggBots and OzoBots. One of the centerpieces of the maker movement at the library is its donated 3-D printer, which the public will be taught to use.
— Reporter Linda Hall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-264-1125, Ext. 2230. She is @lindahallTDR on Twittter.
Library’s Workshop/Maker’s Space
Inspiration? The library's workshop has been in the basement of the Operations Center on Larwill Street for nine years. It’s evolution into a "maker’s space" started later with the successful attempt to save a 1987 microwave, which was rescued by making parts for it on-site with a 3-D printer.
How has it evolved? The library's unofficial workshop has evolved into not only fixing things that break without having to make major purchases, but also into constructing furniture to be used in the library system and items to use in its programs. It has evolved along with the "Maker" movement, in which people recycle, reuse and create their own items, trending across the United States.