A pile of equipment at the Madison Heights Public Library waiting to be unpacked and incorporated into the new Creative Techspace.

A pile of equipment at the Madison Heights Public Library waiting to be unpacked and incorporated into the new Creative Techspace.

Photo provided by Vanessa Verdun-Morris

Makerspace being assembled at Madison Heights Public Library

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published March 8, 2023


MADISON HEIGHTS — Originally set to reopen in March, the renovated Madison Heights Public Library is now set to reopen later in April. But officials say the extra time will be worth the wait, with a “makerspace” that will allow patrons to create all sorts of things.

Officially called the Creative Techspace, the room will feature nine stations available to patrons on a first-serve basis, with time limits to ensure more people get to use them. Vanessa Verdun-Morris, the library director, said that time limits may be adjusted based on initial demand, or even switched to an appointment basis.

The stations will include categories like 3D printing, sewing and embroidery, media conversion, design and engineering, vinyl cutting and paper arts, sublimation, heat press, office and document, and tinkering and crafts.

Among the equipment will be a 3D printer and Cricut Maker 3 with cutting and crafting tools; two desktop computers, a Microsoft Surface tablet and an iPad, all capable of 3D graphics and editing photos, video and audio; video conversion tools for film, VHS and video formats; a sublimation printer and heat press with attachments for different materials; a combination embroidery-sewing machine; a button press with multiple size attachments; and modular robots called Cubelets.

The Cricut Maker 3 can cut and engrave vinyl and paper, as well as other materials such as wood, leather, crafting foam and acrylic. The 3D printer has a build volume of 150 by 150 by 150 mm, and the 3D designs and rendering can be done on the computers in the Creative Techspace.

The sublimation printer can be used with the design computers to create and print long-lasting designs that can be transferred onto totes, hats, shirts, mugs and more with the heat press, and the attachments for the heat press can accommodate a range of materials.

The embroidery and sewing machine allows for traditional sewing with a number of decorative and traditional stitches, including built-in embroidery designs. There will also be software on the computers that can help patrons digitize their own custom embroidery designs, which can then be uploaded to the embroidery machine for fabrication.

The equipment will be sorted into three categories denoting skill level: green, yellow and red. Green-level equipment and supplies can be used by anyone, by default. Yellow-level equipment will require a training session with a staff member first, and red-level equipment can only be operated by a trained staff member — a precaution to keep patrons safe. Most of the stations are green level.

The Creative Techspace will be adjacent to the library’s new teen area. Ellen Koppy, librarian, said that the equipment does make some noise during operations, but nothing louder than the typical household appliance.

Roslyn Grafstein, the mayor of Madison Heights, said the equipment will allow residents to prototype new ideas and complete entire projects from start to finish.

“Over the years, libraries have expanded to offer more than just books. They’re becoming like community hubs, where you can get music CDs, videos to watch, and of course they have different programs you can attend. And I think this makerspace is really capitalizing on this trend. It will allow residents to tap into their creativity as we provide technological resources that might be outside of their usual price constraints,” Grafstein said. “It’s also helpful for the recent trend of entrepreneurs and startup businesses. Someone might have a good idea for a product or service, but might not have the resources to go further. Now they can tap into the equipment we provide at the makerspace and create something tangible out of their ideas.”

Mark Bliss, a member of the Madison Heights City Council, echoed this sentiment.

“To say I’m excited doesn’t even capture it. We’ve been discussing adding in this makerspace now for as long as I can remember,” Bliss said. “Libraries used to be a central hub for communities, but with the advent of technology, we now use Google for quick answers instead of encyclopedias. And while there are still things like audiobooks you can get at the library, the gathering element has been decentralized. So we’re trying to bring more of that back, and I think when you add things like this makerspace, you’re creating another reason to spend time at the library and interact with others, and you’re getting to utilize tools and technology you may not have access to in your personal life.

“I also think it will help inspire the next generation of creators,” he added. “I think about the new teen area we’re adding and the completely revamped children’s room, and how they’re very nice complementary spaces for this makerspace, since teens and children are the ones most likely to not have access to these tools at home. Here, they will have access and support from the library staff, and we may have someone who comes here, uses the makerspace, discovers a new passion, and ends up doing something phenomenal, like curing cancer or creating a never-ending car battery. That’s the entire purpose of innovating — to inspire and make things better for the next generation.”