Creative makers: Belfast Free Library now gives you the tools with new Makerspace

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 2:30pm

    BELFAST—Creativity is free, but the technology to produce it is not. Thanks to a grant by William W. Treat Foundation secured by the Belfast Free Library, the third floor conference room is the Library’s newest Makerspace.

    What is a Makerspace? According to the definition, it is “a place in which people with shared interests, especially in computing or technology, can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge.”

    The grant funded a variety of new equipment for the Makerspace, including a computer cart housing 10 PC (Dell) laptops, a Macbook, a high-resolution scanner, and a multi- format color printer; and a 55-inch Bluetooth accessible wall-mounted monitor; electronic sewing machines; a camcorder with tripod and external microphones; and studio lights and green screen background. Adobe Cloud software is available, and all computers are equipped with Microsoft Office Suite.

    The conference room doubles as the Makerspace with all of the equipment locked up behind utility closets.

    “All of the Dell laptops have been loaded with software to interact with the high-quality printer and scanner and the Macbook comes with Adobe Creative Cloud so people can use Photoshop or Illustrator, or InDesign, any of the Adobe Suite products,” said Erica Rubin Irish, Youth Services Librarian. “Anyone can use the equipment, regardless if he or she holds a library card; there just needs to be an orientation.”

    For creative people, this Makerspace opens up a world of possibility. The library plans to offer this equipment to the public, but also plans on scheduling Makerspace programming. With the laptops connected to the wall-mounted monitor, educators can lead group trainings; artists and writers can now do more multimedia presentations for the public. People can teach themselves online to sew. And with the studio lights, video camera, green screen and editing software, budding filmmakers can make their own in-house films.

    The Library’s first event was a button-making for teens. This program combined high-tech and low-tech:  searching designs online and printing with the new color printer, then using an old-fashioned hand-operated button maker to create custom buttons (badges).

    The second program featured Maine State Library’s Gizmo Garden hands-on science program for kids. Participants created clay pots and wired circuitry boards that made the pots self-watering. 

    “While there is that technology focus, we also want to do more events where people are making things with their hands,” said Sharon Pietryka, the Reference and Special Collections Librarian.

    “We also just got a machine that can burn VHS tapes to DVD,” said Rubin Irish. “That is something that is hard to find to be able to transfer home movies to DVD.”

    The librarians are excited about the vast opportunities to now use the equipment in a variety of ways.

    “In the future, we’re planning on running a vlog-making (video blog) workshop for teens,” said Rubin Irish

    Coming up, the Library plans a “Family Memory Book” making class on Tuesday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. with a follow up class (TBD) where participants will be able to use the Makerspace and access an online program to complete their Memory Book. For more information visit:

    Kay Stephens can be reached at