When was the last time you went to your local library? With the advent of Amazon, e-readers and the internet, these institutions can sometimes seem to be going the way of cassettes and fax machines. Despite that, Tredyffrin Public Library’s story lies in the future, not the past.
Granted a contribution of $40,000 in December from the McLean Contributionship and the Friends of Tredyffrin Public Library, Tredyffrin Public Library tapped into the funds to create a makerspace for the local community, one in which children and adults alike can further interests in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) fields and technology.
Tredyffrin Public Library lies in Strafford where it serves not only as a repository for books, but also as an outside-the-home workspace and now a center for classes from needle felting for adults to digital design classes for teenagers and coding/robotics for children as young as five years old.
“We’re a gathering place, and we’ve really tried to respond to that by making upgrades such as the makerspace, by thinking about what our community needs now as opposed to what they might have needed 20 years ago and how we can adapt our library,” says Rachel Kramer, the funding associate for Tredyffrin Public Library.
In the position since 2018, Kramer oversaw the donations that led to the space becoming possible. She went through an extensive application process with the McLean Contributionship that kickstarted the process and granted the library $25,000 before the Friends of Tredyffrin Public Library stepped in with the necessary funds of $15,000 to complete the project.
The Friends own a volunteer-run used bookstore in the basement of the library called Red Fox Book Shop, as well as a storefront by the same name on Amazon. When the library is in need of financing, they’re able to speak with the Friends’ board to request funds. Naturally, the Friends’ board graciously allocated the necessary capital for the project and, not long after, the makerspace went live.
Alive with all the trinkets and technology any attention-starved kid could dream of, the makerspace at Tredyffrin Public Library boasts 3D printers, iPads connected to robots for coding, Cricuts, laser cutters and heat presses as well as zero-tech toys ranging from Legos to pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks.
“[We even do] gaming days for kids so they can come in for an hour and play Mario Kart together,” says Head of Reference and Technology Jonathan Trice. “It’s people just getting together and sharing experiences.”
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The library also has Dungeons and Dragons starter groups planned as well as an adult Lego club.
Despite the early success of the makerspace, the planning never stops at a place like Tredyffrin Public Library. Kramer is working on raising money for renovations that will provide more soundproof private spaces for locals looking to get out of home offices.
Right now, many of the library’s group meeting rooms are being used by individuals just looking for a door that shuts. They’re hoping to get those spaces back to being used for collaborative work. Beyond that, the makerspace still needs more furniture. With hundreds of young children, teens and adults anticipated to venture through the room every week, the library needs strong chairs and desks that will hold up underneath all kinds of stress.
While libraries around the country struggle as the move to new forms of technology means students and adults alike forgo traditional books, Tredyffrin Public Library stays ahead of the curve with a makerspace that promises to breathe life into the Wayne community.
Conside donating to the Tredyffrin Public Library via the following link.