The Idea Lab is home to resources and equipment available for anyone to use and be creative.

The Idea Lab is home to resources and equipment available for anyone to use and be creative.

Photo provided by the Baldwin Public Library


Library’s Idea Lab encourages creativity

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 5, 2023

BIRMINGHAM — The Baldwin Public Library is home to the Idea Lab, a hub for creative minds to access resources to help them make their vision come to life.

With the holidays coming up, maybe a gift created at the Idea Lab is the perfect personalized present for a loved one. With 3D printers, an embroidery machine or other services, there are many opportunities to create at the lab, library officials said.

Generally, people are expected to provide their own materials when they use the lab.

“It’s one of the ways that allows us to offer all this great equipment without having to charge anyone for anything,” Jeff Jimison, the Idea Lab supervisor, said.

The Idea Lab holds free events to help boost the community’s knowledge of its resources and how to use them.

The next event, “Laser Cut Snowflake Names,” was slated to be held Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. During this event, participants will make custom snowflake ornaments by entering their name into software that will cut the name into crystal-clear acrylic. Registration for this event is no longer open, but that does not mean that people can no longer make this project.

“It’s still possible to make that thing in the Idea Lab. You can always come and learn how to use the laser cutter, take a certification class, which will teach you how to use it, and you can use it for your own projects — not just laser-cut snowflakes, but really anything you can imagine,” Jimison said.

Jimison will be on Instagram Live Dec. 13 for the upcoming episode of the “Idea Lab: Things” series, titled “Altoids Things.” Jimison will take viewers through repurposing empty Altoids tins with 3D printers. Registration is not required for this Instagram Live event, which will begin at 7 p.m.

“I’m really looking forward to how we are going to showcase how to turn your Altoids tin into a tiny portable watercolor paint studio,” Jimison said.

For people interested in learning more about 3D printers at an in-person class, “Get Your Fil: All About 3D” will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 18 at the library. During this class, Jimison will talk about every type of 3D printer filament that can be printed in the Idea Lab. This class will help expand participants’ knowledge of how to use the library’s resources to create interesting things. Registration is required.

“Jeff makes these information sessions really easy and informative, and he just makes them seem easy and realistic to use,” said Baldwin Public Library Associate Director Jaclyn Miller.

“Anyone is always welcome to just walk in, take a look around. We’re always happy to talk about it and give people a quick tour of the Idea Lab, and if anyone is interested in learning how to actually use the equipment, we can schedule appointments to do that either through our email or you can give us a call,” Jimison said.

Since the Idea Lab is a private entity inside the library, anyone from anywhere has access to use the lab. People do not need to be a Baldwin Public Library card holder, and they do not have to be a resident of Birmingham.

“​​You don’t have to know anything about any of the machines to go in there and get involved. We will train you on those machines, and staff will help you execute your project,” Miller said.

More information on the Idea Lab can be found at baldwinlib.org/idealab. They can be contacted through idealab@baldwinlib.org or (248) 554-4659.