Staff at Junction City’s Dorothy Bramlage Public Library hope to add a makerspace program there, and a Kansas State University student has been appointed to lead the charge in establishing one.
Library officials are in the process of designing and raising funds for a new facility, and a makerspace is incorporated in the new library’s plan. The intent is to provide locals with a space that will inspire collaboration, innovation and promote hands-on skills. Library steering committee member Lisa Eickholt said the plan would include incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and 4-H projects.
“The opportunities are limitless,” Eickholt said.
Former Geary County resident Michelle Munson and her husband, Serban Simu, made a donation to the library that will fund an internship project to explore the makerspace concept. The library is contracting with Kansas State’s Technology Development Institute, which conducted interviews to identify an intern to work on the project. TDI Executive Director Jeffrey W. Tucker said that process led to the appointment of Ryan Broeder, who is studying mechanical engineering, and will be a senior this fall. Broeder is a Great Bend native, who has been a member of 4-H for 14 years.
“We interviewed a number of students, and chose Ryan because of his engineering and 4-H background,” Tucker said. “We’re acting as a support organization for what Ryan is doing. We’re working with other communities across the state who are looking at makerspaces. It’s about working with youths and moving the talent pool upstream. It’s a good fit.”
Broeder said he will explore ideas to acquire equipment and tools to offer through the makerspace, which may otherwise be unavailable to local youths.
“The STEM field is growing, and we need to have youths get the technology they wouldn’t get at home,” Broeder said. “We’ll look at what equipment can be used. What projects do they do that we can help them with?”
Broeder will work out of the TDI facility at Kansas State, but will meet with local community members.
“We’ll schedule meetings here as a part of understanding what would fit Junction City’s needs,” Broeder said. “To get a better understanding for a vision behind the makerspace.”
Officials from Kansas State’s Hale Library are interested in partnering with Dorothy Bramlage Public Library on makerspace initiatives, Eickholt said. Hale is being rebuilt after a fire, and plans include devoting the library’s first floor to makerspace activities.
Tucker said the equipment makerspaces utilize — including 3D printers — act as the main attraction for the programs.
“Libraries are a great place to make it happen because there’s already a sense of community,” Tucker said.