Crafting and tech come together in Quinte West, Stirling-Rawdon with library-based makerspaces

Haley Letch, children’s librarian and program services coordinator in Stirling, shows some of the designs that can be made and pressed onto fabric or cups with the library’s Cricut machine. Emma Persaud photo

Young and old artists are finding new outlets for their creativity through “makerspaces” found in local libraries like Quinte West and Stirling-Rawdon.

A special room in the newly-renovated Quinte West Library is devoted to its makerspace, hosting a 3D printer, a GlowForge laser wood engraver, a Cricut machine, sewing machines and more. Library patrons can visit the space to bring their ideas to life.

“It really brings people together,” says Krista Richardson, adult services librarian with Quinte West Library. “I’ve seen relationships grow through this. They talk more in the tech than they do in the art program because there is a sense of ‘we’re in this together and we’re learning to do this together.’”

Haley Letch, the children’s librarian and program designer in Stirling, says it’s important for rural communities to have spaces for people to try out new artistic expressions. Through community support, the Stirling Public Library renovated the back of the children’s library to fit a Cricut machine, a screen printer, new laptops and equipment to learn electronic circuits.

“Some people might really want to try this type of art but find it too expensive to do at home,” says Letch. “By having a space like this people can feel free to come and explore.”

Krista Richardson, Adult Service Librarian for Quinte West Library, shows Jess Crawley how to design her laser-engraved wooden coasters in the library’s newly-renovated makerspace. Emma Persaud photo

Meanwhile, Richardson says the Quinte West Library has been growing its makerspace over the past two years, mostly appealing to youth and adults. Two programs have been developed, Crafting in the Makerspace on Wednesdays and Drop in Makerspace Tech Time on Thursdays, where patrons can learn how to use the technology-based equipment. They are also running event-based activities like 3D print your own cookie cutter and laser-engraving Christmas tree ornaments.

Jess Crawley, a Quinte West local, says she’s using the makerspace to create some Christmas gifts for her friends and family.

“I’m using the GlowForge to make some personalized coasters and trivets for my family,” says Crawley, who attended some of the summer workshops. “I like that I can create it myself.”

Makerspaces, Letch says, are not just for tech. With children who come to use the space, some with their whole class at the local school, Legos are a popular source of creativity. Letch says the best purchase she’s made for the space continues to be classic art supplies:

“There is such a variety of interests among the kids. Some are happy to use just construction paper and scissors, while others want to learn how to create through the computer and technology. It’s really interesting to see.”

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