High-tech and creativity come together at HPL’s Makerspace

Technology available at Makerspace includes 3D printers, guitars, mics, drums and keyboard, and a studio to shoot your own video.

Hamilton Public Library (HPL) has become my go-to place for discovering new and exciting creative experiences that are free for the taking. Makerspace on the fourth floor of HPL’s Central location is my newest hidden gem find. I’m somewhat intimidated by new technology, but once I crossed the threshold into this mysterious high-tech space, I knew I’d discovered something special.

Are you looking for a sound studio for your band to rehearse? Do you have a bunch of old, well-loved cassette tapes that are sitting around collecting dust? Have you ever wondered what to do with all those envelopes of 35mm film negatives you have tossed in your desk drawer? Well, look no further than Makerspace. It’s a creative paradise for entrepreneurs, musicians, students, and just about anybody with a library card who wants to discover and cultivate their inner creativity.

Technology available at Makerspace includes 3D printers, a large format printer, vinyl printer, digital embroidery machine, recording studio complete with guitars, mics, drums and keyboard, a studio to shoot your own videos or commercials, cassette tape converter, video converter to make your VHS movies into digital format, and even a scanner to let you convert your 35mm negatives into digital format.

“Makerspace is a discovery and resource place for anyone who wants to learn new technology or wants to see where the future is leading us,” said Monica Socol, manager of digital technology services at HPL. “We want to help people build digital skills they can use and prepare them for success.” Small business owners can print promotional materials or use the video studio to make podcasts. Even prototypes can be 3D printed at a minimal cost. Throughout Makerspace, you only pay for the materials you use—not the use of the technology. It’s truly a money-saving venture.

This do-it-yourself high-tech environment might seem intimidating at first, but don’t let that stop you from creating your dream project. “Staff are very helpful. We can show you how your project will look on the computer before you complete it to avoid design flaws,” says Socol. “We’re here to help support you and your projects.” But HPL takes learning design software to a whole new level. Not only does it offer free workshops to teach you how to use the technology in Makerspace, but you can access more than 3,500 awesome video tutorials from Lynda.com for free just by using your (also free) library card. You can learn 3D printing, photography, video editing and so much more. (Visit hpl.ca/digital-media/lynda.com to learn more.) And if learning online isn’t your forte, you can utilize HPL’s “Book an Appointment” program to reserve up to one hour with library staff for help.

If you’re anything like me, 3D printing is somewhat of a mystery, so checking out a course at Lynda.com will be first on my list. I was intrigued when I read about the eight-year-old girl with the 3D printed prosthetic hand who threw the first pitch at a Blue Jays game in Toronto this past August. Though I didn’t see any prosthetics being printed at HPL, I did see someone’s 3D project in progress and it was amazing to watch. I’m sure it’ll be more amazing when I learn to print my own design. “Makerspace is a resource for everyone to work on their projects,” says Monica. Someone had printed a replacement knob for their stove at a fraction of the cost of buying the knob from the manufacturer. Now that’s practical.

Gone are the days of using only bristol board and glue sticks for projects. High-tech Makerspace is here to stay. To learn more about Hamilton Public Library’s Makerspace locations and specific services available at each branch, visit www.hpl.ca/makerspaces.

Kathryn Shanley

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