Fayetteville Free Library exterior

The Fayetteville (NY) Free Library. Photo courtesy of Lauren Britton Smedley.

One of the first library “makerspace” examples to come across the Library as Incubator Project’s desk was the Fab(ulous) Lab at the Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, New York. We are thrilled to feature Transliteracy librarian Lauren Britton Smedley and the Fab Lab here today. - Laura

What was the impetus for/origins of the Fab Lab and why a Fab Lab in a public library?

The FFL Fabulous Laboratory developed out of a proposal I created for a course during my MLIS at Syracuse University.  Makerspaces are places where people come together to create, collaborate, and share resources and knowledge—an idea and concept that fits perfectly with the mission and vision of public libraries.

Our patrons are not merely consumers of information, they are also creators of information.

The Fabulous Laboratory will give our community access to world-changing technology, experts and ideas to support their information needs—for both creation and consumption.   We are immersed in a read-write culture and this program will allow our patrons to fully participate and explore the numerous opportunities this culture creates.

Fayetteville FL Fab Lab

In the Fayetteville Free Library Fab Lab. Photo courtesy of Lauren Britton Smedley.

What are some ways that patrons can use the Fab Lab?

Currently we host monthly open houses and workshops designed to spark ideas and innovation.  We provide access to MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printers, a PSP Super Computer (on loan to us from New Blankets), 3D Design programming, Book Making, BristleBots, and more.  Starting in March 2012, similar to our Tech Times, we will launch MakerBot Sessions which are one-on-one appointments with a librarian to learn the basics of digital fabrication and printing techniques. We are still raising funds to renovate the east wing (future home of the FFL Fab Lab and Business Center) and are also in the process of developing a Mobile Makerspace to create broader access for our community.

How are you funding the Fab Lab?

Funding to support the developing program is strong and substantial in local in-kind support.  We are pursuing state and federal funding.  Also, we recently won an award of $10,000 at the Contact Summit in NYC, and just concluded a crowd-sourced, online campaign.  We are currently exploring capital funding from multiple arenas, one being a final approval for a  NYS DLD Library Construction Grant for $251,000.

We’re really interested in the idea of the library as an “incubator” for the fine and creative arts. Can you speak about that a bit, particularly as it relates to the Fab Lab?

Fayetteville FL 3D Printer

Fayetteville Free Library Fab Lab’s 3D printer. Photo courtesy of Lauren Britton Smedley.

The Fayetteville Free Library has a history of being a leader in library innovation and supports multiple programs, projects and services that reinforce the idea of a library as an incubator.  For example, in addition to the Fab Lab, we have an art gallery for local artists to show their work, Tech Times, a Skype ‘Meet the Author’ series, and an active circulating digital device collection, including iPads, Nooks, and Kindles.

The addition of the Fab Lab to the library creates another avenue for our community members to engage, most importantly with each other, but also with staff and experts across a range of fields and industries.  The FFL operates as a ‘third place’ (see Ray Oldenburg: http://www.pps.org/articles/roldenburg/) in the community and these programs foster a participatory culture that is essential in healthy, vibrant, innovative communities.

For more information about the Fayetteville Free Library’s Fab Lab, visit the library website.

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