The library recently upgraded to a new catalog system. Please accept our sincere thanks for your patience during this transitional period. Here are answers to some of the questions we’ve received about how the system works:
Access to the catalog: Having issues accessing the new catalog?( Try clearing your browser of temporary, unwanted content (how to do this). For those who have bookmarked the old catalog, you should delete your bookmark and re-bookmark the new site.
Library Card Number/Username/Password: The username is your library card number, and the password is the last four digits of the phone number you have listed in the system. You may continue to use these as your username and password, but you have the option to change them after you login initially.
My List(s): You can quickly create a bibliographiclist(s) in the new catalog (great for students doing papers) and you can opt for your reading history to be saved. Log in to have a list saved. Change your preferences (click the Reading History link on the right side to access this setting) to save your reading history. Unfortunately, lists from the previous system are not available.Library staff can assist you in creating new lists.
Holds/Requests/Suspensions: You likely won’t notice any big changes in requesting materials. To suspend your hold requests, go to your requests in your account. Select the items that you want to suspend and click on the suspend button on the bottom of the page. You will be prompted for a new activation date,then holds. Select each one, click on “suspend/reactivate,” and put in the date you would like to reactivate the holds.
Email and Texts: Pre-overdue and past-due email reminders, as well as hold notifications, are available, which many people are taking advantage of. Ask a staff member to add your email address to a family member's account in order to receive notifications from that account. You can now also receive notifications via text messaging. To take advantage of this, enter your cell phone number and carrier’s name on your account page.
Getting emails from both Elf and the new system: This will happen unless you cancel Elf, the third-party notification system used for the previous catalog. You can choose to keep both, but this is unnecessary with the new notification that comes directly from the library. To cancel Elf, go to libraryelf.com, sign in to your account and click "delete account."
Please call 203.291.4800 if you have further questions.
Connecticut’s 2nd Mini Maker Faire on April 27 was a huge hit! Over 3,500 people came to the Westport Library from all over the region to see dozens of inventors, hobbyists and students showcase their creations. Congressman Jim Himes (CT-District 4) spoke about the economic importance of making things in America, and official recognition proclamations were read from Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg for Governor Dannel Malloy and Representative Gail Lavielle for the Connecticut General Assembly. Here are some highlights:
The Library has upgraded to a more efficient, easier-to-use catalog system. Trust us; you’ll like it better!
Incorporated into this new system is an email notification system which will replace the current third-party program known as Elf. Please supply us with your email address so we can register you for this service. You can do this by updating your account information, coming in or calling 203.291.4800.
Here are some of the benefits of the new system:
Searching the catalog is easy. Select a type of search from a drop-down menu to find any library item.
Use your library card number to establish and customize your account.
Find out when the newest books by your favorite author are available, or a new type of movie.
Place, suspend, reactivate or cancel your holds through your account.
Create a list of everything you’ve checked out, or a list of things you would like.
Use the email notification system to receive emails or text messages about new holds available and overdue items. Customize the system to suit your needs.
Share titles on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts
Wednesday, April 10, was Snapshot Day, a day during which we recorded everything, well almost everything, that happened from 9 am to 9 pm. An initiative organized by the Connecticut State Library, dozens of libraries across the state participated. Here’s a slideshow, including a couple of videos at the end, that highlights the energy and diversity of what goes on at the Library every day.
In addition to photos, we collected this information for April 10:
People who visited: 1,273
Items circulated: 1,445
Reference questions asked: 183
People who used public computers: 173
People who visited the website: 1,069
Quantity of programs: 5
People who attended programs: 155
Coffee and tea drinks sold: 59
Some comments from people who visited that day:
“The library is the intellectual center for our community.”
“The children’s programs are awesome.”
“I almost always find what I’m looking for.”
“This place is the best!”
“I love the library. It’s so important to the community.”
The Library is upgrading to a more efficient, easier-to-use catalog system which will enable users to receive email notices directly from the library, rather than through the third party server known as Elf. Beginning in July, the Library will no longer support Elf, although the free version will still be available (with the inclusion of advertisements).
Card holders are requested to supply email addresses to the Library to allow for a seamless transition to the new system, Polaris, which is used by many modern public libraries. The Library does not have access to the email addresses of Elf users, since the program is autonomous and requires a password. Providing or updating email addresses can be done in person, over the phone or through the existing online catalog.
Polaris, scheduled to be active at the end of May, offers many benefits for users, including:
Courtesy date due reminders
Keeping a reading history
Receiving new items alerts by email
Sharing titles with Facebook, Twitter or other social networking accounts
Texting to your phone
Creating and saving title lists
Easily limiting and sorting searches by type of material, publication date and audience
Managing your account, including setting up a username and password so you don’t have to remember your library card number
Services will be limited during the transitioning from the old system to the new. The Library catalog will be offline from May 24 until May 29.
WESTPORT LIBRARY SEEKING INDIVIDUALS
FOR AN ACTIVE ROLE IN LIBRARY’S FUTURE
The Westport Library is seeking people interested in playing an active role in the Library’s future, including serving on the Board of Trustees. Detailed information about the Library is available at westportlibrary.org, including a link to the Library’s Strategic Plan, which guides the Library in decision making and budgeting. Two information sessions are scheduled for interested individuals: April 9, 7 pm; and April 11, 10 am.
Those interested should email a resume and letter of interest indicating how their past work and prior experience with governance, policy setting, fundraising, entrepreneurship and project development qualify them. Please respond by March 29, 2013, to Betty Tsang at btsang [at] westportlibrary [dot] org, indicating which session is preferable.
What is TEDMED? It’s an annual gathering in Washington, D.C, of innovators and leaders alongside artists and musicians who share the goal of creating a better future for everyone in health, wellness and medicine. Licensed by the non-profit TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design), it’s a three-day series designed to inspire and surprise with big-picture talks about innovative ways to think about health and wellness. The Westport Library is the first library to live-stream one full day of TEDMED on April 17, facilitated by Innovation Consultant Jeanine Esposito. Seats are limited; registration required.
Who is TEDMED for?
This event is designed for the broadest audience possible, not just those in medical and healthcare fields. It’s for all of us, because it’s about all of us.
Here are some examples of the speakers you will hear:
• a rapper and internist who wants to shake up healthcare with his bold ideas
• an astrophysicist-turned-computer scientist will reveal how charting his bodily inputs and outputs is changing medicine
• a singer who prescribes taking a spoonful of music to make the medicine go down
• a leading cancer doctor will show that cancer isn’t a disease; it’s a lifelong dynamic balance that happens in all of us
• a doctor and researcher will talk about the “mouse monarchy” in medicine; why do we experiment with mice?
Jeanine Esposito, founder of spark!Consulting, will moderate discussions after each of three 90-minute sessions. An innovation consultant for many healthcare companies, she attended TEDMED in Washington last year.
“I was amazed at how inspirational it was,” she said. “I left full of ideas about my own health and how the world of healthcare could be in the future. This event is absolutely for everyone. Bravo to the library for offering such a valuable opportunity to Westport!”
She noted that while attendees at the live event in Washington pay more than $5,000 for tickets, participants at the Library pay only $35 for refreshments throughout the day, and receive a code that will allow them access to the rest of the TEDMED Washington sessions.
Organized by the Connecticut Library Association, Snapshot Day is a day libraries around the state record everything that happens on a typical day—from how many people walk through the doors to how many items are checked out, what programs are offered, how many people use public computers and 3D printers and much, much more. The Westport Library Snapshot Day is Wednesday, April 10.
Please help us show how important your Library is by filling out the (very) short forms at the Circulation Desk, Reference Desk or in the Audio Visual Department, or sending an email to mlogan [at] westportlibrary [dot] org. The results of this exercise will be posted for you to see how much your Library serves the community, and possibly used to support libraries in state legislative sessions.
CBS Channel 3 reporter Dan Kain interviewed Director Maxine Bleiweis, Asst. Director Bill Derry and 3D Printing Coach Graham Nash about why the Westport Library has 3D printers, and what the future holds.
This week, April 14-20, the Westport Library joins libraries in schools, campuses and communities nationwide in celebrating National Library Week, a time to highlight the value of libraries, librarians and library workers.Libraries today are much more than places to borrow books. The Westport Library is committed to to empowering the individual and strengthening the community through dynamic interaction and the lively exchange of ideas. Library leaders work with elected officials, entrepreneurs, business owners, students, educators and the public at large to discover what the community’s needs are and work towards meeting them. Here are a few of the things the Library offers:
• A wide range of programs for children, teens and adults
• Books, movies, ereaders and tablets to borrow
• A Maker Space for people to connect and create
• 3D printers
• Resources for job seekers
• Tech Help
• Electric power during power outages
• Quiet places to read
• Large and small rooms for meetings and studying
• Public computers, copiers and a scanner
• Free wifi
• Reference resources
• A café and store
First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April.
Here’s what Caroline Kennedy has to say about libraries:
Jon Meacham, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose most recent work,”Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,” was a best seller, will be the honoree at the Westport Public Library’s annual Booked for the Evening fundraiser on Wednesday, May 22, it was announced today.
In addition to being an author, Meachman is Random House executive editor, and former editor of Newsweek.
Meacham received the Pulitzer Prize for “American Lion,” his bestselling 2008 biography of Andrew Jackson. He is also the author of The New York Times bestsellers “Franklin and Winston” and “American Gospel.”
Meacham is a contributing editor to Time magazine and has written for The New York Times and The Washington Post, among other publications. He is a regular contributor on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “Morning Joe,” and “Charlie Rose.”
A Fellow of the Society of American Historians, Meacham serves on the boards of the New York Historical Society, the Churchill Centre, and The McCallie School.
He is a former trustee and regent of The University of the South and has served on the vestries of St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and Trinity Church Wall Street.
Born in Chattanooga in 1969, Meacham was educated at McCallie and at The University of the South, where he was salutatorian and Phi Beta Kappa.
He began his career as a reporter at The Chattanooga Times. He and his wife live with their three children in Nashville and in Sewanee.
Previous Booked for the evening honorees have been Barry Levinson, Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin, Wendy Wasserstein, Pete Hamill, Martin Scorsese, Arthur Mitchell, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Halberstam, Oscar Hijuelos, Adam Gopnik, Will Shortz, and Patti Smith.
All proceeds from the event benefit the programs and services of Westport Library. For reservations, contact westportlibrary.org or Cindy Clark at clark [at] westportlibrary [dot] org or (203)291-4824.
Posted 02/28 at 08:38 PM
Photo: Jon Meacham: journalist and author. Photo by Damien Donck for Newsweek
In his State of the Union address last week, along with the standard calls for education reform and energy independence, President Obama gave a shout-out to a growing technology. In a lab in Youngstown, Ohio, the president said, “Workers are mastering the 3-D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost anything.”
When Brook Drumm saw clips from the speech at his home outside Sacramento, Calif., he wanted to reach through his TV and give the president a fist bump. Mr. Drumm, a bald, goateed father of three, designed the Printrbot, a desktop 3-D printer kit. Like a number of other 3-D printers, it uses heated plastic — applied layer by layer to a heated bed by a glue-gun-like extruder — to turn designs created on a computer into real objects.
As Mr. Drumm illustrated in the Kickstarter campaign he used to raise more than $830,000 to start his business in late 2011, the Printrbot is small enough to fit on a kitchen counter, next to the Mr. Coffee. “The goal for the company,” Mr. Drumm said in world-beating tones, “is a printer in every home and every school.”
The technology for 3-D printing has existed for years, and President Obama was referring to its applications in manufacturing. But there is a growing sense that 3-D printers may be the home appliance of the future, much as personal computers were 30 years ago, when Dick Cavett referred to the Apple II in a TV commercial as “the appliance of the ’80s for all those pesky household chores.”
Like computers, 3-D printers originally proved their worth in the business sector, cost a fortune and were bulkier than a Kelvinator. But in the last few years, less expensive desktop models have emerged, and futurists and 3-D printing hobbyists are now envisioning a world in which someone has an idea for a work-saving tool — or breaks the hour hand on their kitchen clock or loses the cap to the shampoo bottle — and simply prints the invention or the replacement part.
Bre Pettis, the chief executive officer of MakerBot, the Brooklyn-based company leading the charge in making 3-D printers for the consumer market, has seen how the technology is already being applied. “We have stories of people who have fixed their blenders, fixed their espresso machine,” he said.
A file-sharing database MakerBot oversees, called Thingiverse, currently holds more than 36,000 downloadable designs. “One of my favorite stories from Thingiverse is a dad who has a daughter who is 41 inches tall,” Mr. Pettis said. “They were going to an amusement park, and she wasn’t going to be able to go on any of the rides because the minimum height was 42 inches. The dad made orthopedic inserts for her shoes.”
Last fall, MakerBot opened what may be the first retail store devoted to 3-D printers, in Lower Manhattan. Inside, demonstration models of the company’s Replicator 2, a slick, steel-framed machine with the boxy dimensions of a microwave that sells for about $2,200, are constantly printing, turning files created on Trimble SketchUp and other computer-aided design (CAD) software into things like architecture models or smartphone cases.
Emmanuel Plat, director of merchandising for the Museum of Modern Art’s retail division, said that in his experience, watching a 3-D printer work can induce future shock. “When people see the machine function, they’re mesmerized,” said Mr. Plat, who counts himself among those impressed.
As part of its “Destination: NYC” collection in May, the MoMA Design Store will feature a Replicator 2 printing New York-themed items for sale, like a miniature skyscraper or taxi; people can also buy the printer, Mr. Plat said.
In an age when shooting video with a phone and sending it to a friend across the world is old hat, it’s not easy to wow anyone with technology. Still, everywhere he goes lately, Mr. Plat said he hears people gushing about 3-D printing. “The word is out in the design community and creative community,” he said. “The applications are limitless.”
BUT FOR ALL THE EXCITEMENT surrounding 3-D printing, there is still a significant gap between its potential and the current reality. The 15,000 or so early adopters who have bought a MakerBot printer are mostly design professionals or hobbyists from the maker community, not homeowners who still have trouble programming the remote. And the things being printed still tend to be trinkets like toys, key chains or just colorful pieces of plastic in amusing shapes.
Mr. Drumm bought a kit a couple of years ago because he wanted to be “the first family on our block to have a 3-D printer,” he said. After assembling the machine, a complicated task that required a knowledge of soldering, he and his 6-year-old son managed to print a bottle opener. “It took 45 minutes and it was kind of crappy, but I was encouraged,” Mr. Drumm said. “O.K., we’re doing this at our kitchen table.”
It’s a sentiment Mr. Pettis hopes other parents will share. He is betting they will buy 3-D printers for their children, despite the current limitations, in the same way his family purchased a Commodore 64 home computer back in the early 1980s. The machines represent the future, he said, and “for the cost of a laptop” they offer “an education in manufacturing.”
Still, at $2,200, a Replicator 2 costs more than most laptops, and in this sluggish economy, one imagines families could find more essential uses for that money.
When he was designing the Printrbot, that was one of the things Mr. Drumm had in mind. He wanted the kit to be easy to assemble and to require no soldering, he said, but most of all he wanted it to be cheap. “It became obvious to me that it can’t be $1,200 or even $800,” he said. He settled on a price of about $550.
“People don’t know what they’re going to do with it,” he added. “I just say, ‘This is such a new technology. Get your feet wet.’ ”
Hearing Mr. Drumm recount his initial forays into 3-D printing, or watching the Replicator 2 print a brightly colored doodad, one is reminded of another Apple commercial, one that ran a few years before the Dick Cavett spot. In the ad, a synthesized voice touted all the things families could do with a home computer, like “create dazzling color displays” on their TV and “invent their own Pong games.” Given the myriad uses we’ve since found for home computers, and how indispensable they have become, the ad is almost absurdly quaint.
Max Lobovsky, one of the creators of the Form 1, a desktop 3-D printer that is stunning in both its design and printing quality, said the home 3-D printer is at a similarly protozoan evolutionary stage. “It’s not just about technology or reducing costs,” Mr. Lobovsky said. “The machines need to be easier to use, more capable and offer more applications in the home. I think all of those things are missing today.”
He and his partner, Natan Linder, envisioned the Form 1, which sells for around $3,300, as an affordable 3-D printer for professionals. Last September, they raised more than $2.9 million on Kickstarter, proof of the enthusiasm in the marketplace. They see 3-D printing technology working its way down from corporations to smaller companies to the engineers, architects and crafters at whom the Form 1 is aimed.
“There are a few more levels,” Mr. Lobovsky said, “before we get to every single household.”
IT MAY ONLY BE A MATTER OF TIME until a 3-D printer shares shelf space in the home with the laptop or TV, and of course Mr. Pettis already has a Replicator 2 on his coffee table in Brooklyn. But at the moment, the most common place to find a desktop 3-D printer may be at a hacker space, where hobbyists gather to share tips and troubleshoot what can be glitchy machines to operate.
Consider 2-D printers with their paper jams and low-toner warnings, then remember that most 3-D printers use hot plastic and don’t come with an office repairman.
Hack Manhattan holds a weekly event called 3-D Thursday in its narrow second-floor workroom on 14th Street. One evening last month David Reeves and Justin Levinson, two club members, sat huddled around a printer Mr. Reeves had built using plans available free online. Its exposed wires and bare rod frame gave the machine the look of a homely science fair entry, but the bit-like extruder circled with the quick, precise movements of a hummingbird, printing layer by plastic layer.
In a mind-bending technology feedback loop, Mr. Reeves, a research scientist who likes to tinker, was using his 3-D printer to make parts to build another 3-D printer.
Nearby, Matthew Duepner was hoping to get tips on modifying the Printrbot Jr. kit he had bought for $400 at a fair and has been testing in his bedroom. A 15-year-old high school sophomore at the Professional Children’s School, Mr. Duepner learned about 3-D printing at a workshop at M.I.T., he said, and “just fell in love with it.”
He was excited because he had recently found a Long Island source for cheap plastic, the 3-D equivalent of printer ink. “You should see the spool,” he said. “It’s like as big as me. Dude, it’s crazy.”
Mr. Levinson, an editor at Makeshift, a magazine that spotlights creativity, said he can think of at least one practical use for a 3-D printer: the burner on his mother’s oven is broken and she can no longer get a replacement part. “Entire objects are rendered useless because a stupid piece of plastic broke,” he said. Being able to print a new one, he added, “makes the life cycle of objects a lot longer.”
But Mr. Levinson doesn’t have a 3-D printer at home, and perhaps he’s wise to hold off for now.
Another visitor, Jim Galvin, a lighting programmer for film and television, said he spent around $1,100 for a Cupcake, an early MakerBot model. It came in handy when he printed an iPhone holder for his car. Even so, he complained, “anything I’ve printed I’ve printed at least eight times to get right,” and the Cupcake malfunctioned often. “I became a 3-D printer mechanic, and that’s not what I wanted to be.” (A Replicator 2 sitting on a shelf at Hack Manhattan, with a sign taped to it reading “Not Working! Do Not Use,” suggests MakerBot’s latest model isn’t glitch-proof either.)
Still, the iPhone holder Mr. Galvin made seemed to demonstrate 3-D printing’s potential. Because he uses two protective cases, his phone is too wide to fit inside a standard holder — a problem that may be unique to Mr. Galvin, and one he was able to solve with his 3-D printer. “That’s what I think is so exciting about 3-D printing,” he said. “Whatever you need, all that stuff you want to make, you can make.”
It was clear that despite the technical challenges and costs, everyone in the room was as enthusiastic about the technology as Mr. Galvin. Throughout the evening, they debated the various types of plastic, shared operating tips and new developments they had seen or heard (Mr. Duepner described one model that printed pancake batter), and speculated on how 3-D printing will bring about the revolution President Obama foreshadowed in his speech.
If you closed your eyes, you could almost imagine yourself standing in a room in Silicon Valley in the 1970s, listening to the early programmers sing the praises of the personal computer. We all know how that turned out.
Like computers before them, 3-D printers are moving from the business and manufacturing sector into retail stores and homes. There are dozens of printers for hobbyists to choose from these days. We asked David Reeves, a member of Hack Manhattan who has experimented with several 3-D printers and built one, to offer his thoughts on a few.
MODEL Replicator 2 by MakerBot
COST About $2,200
THE BASICS The optimal printer is one that can print quickly without sacrificing quality. The print quality of the Replicator 2, Mr. Reeves said, is better than that of any other machine he has used. While this model is advertised as being ready to print out of the box, Mr. Reeves said the one he used did require user-end software tweaking. Also, the price is a little steep.
MODEL Prusa Mendel
COST About $750
THE BASICS The Mendel grew out of the RepRap project, an open-source initiative with the goal of creating an inexpensive, self-replicating printer. Mr. Reeves built his Mendel with parts he found online, and said it has been “very durable.” Perhaps the best thing about it is that updates are often made to the design; owners can download the files free and print new parts.
MODEL Form 1
COST About $3,300
THE BASICS The Form 1 was a wildly successful Kickstarter project, and it is perhaps the coolest looking 3-D printer on the market. It uses a different technology from the rest of the printers (called stereolithography, it produces higher resolution prints with lasers, the company says), and that accounts for its high price tag. Mr. Reeves said he didn’t know enough about the Form 1 to offer an opinion, though he noted that it’s an out-of-the-box printer, not a kit. “They’re complex machines with complex software and hardware,” Mr. Reeves said, adding that assembling a printer yourself “can get frustrating even for the tinkerers.”
MODEL Printrbot Jr. by Printrbot
COST About $400
THE BASICS One of the members of Hack Manhattan owns a Printrbot Jr., and Mr. Reeves said he has been “really impressed with the print quality.” The price is also attractive for beginners, as is the small size (it can be easily transported). One downside for nontinkerers is that the Printrbot Jr. is a kit; another is that the size of the bed limits the size of the objects you can print.
David Pogue is Westport’s very own tech marvel—a New York Times technology columnist and host of NOVA scienceNOW on PBS, a best-selling author, and a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning since 2002. He lives in Westport with his wife and three kids.
Where can a Westporter turn for help with his or her gadgets and gizmos (especially with no Mac store in sight!), and where can one go for a fun techie experience? Pogue’s eyes light up as he says, “The library, man! The [Westport Public] library. Not only is it good, fast, free WiFi—even when the power’s out everywhere else in town—but the library’s been embracing the tech segment with the Maker Faire, the new Maker Space, and regular tech events. Once the renovation happens, wow, you won’t be able to keep us techies away!”
When he’s looking to take his own kids out for a scientific exploration and some creativity, he finds plenty to do in our area. “We’re family members of the Maritime Museum [10 N. Water St., Norwalk],” he says. “We go maybe three times a year. And when the kids were younger, we got a lot of mileage out of the Stepping Stones Children’s Museum [300 West Ave., Norwalk], too. Every now and then, the Discovery Museum [4450 Park Ave., Bridgeport] comes up with a great exhibit, too, and we’ll spend a free and easy afternoon prowling that weird, wonderful building.”
Although known as a science and tech guru, Pogue is a serious musical theater buff. “We Westporters are lucky enough to call New York City ‘local’! So we do a fair amount of jaunting in for a show. We also go to the Webster Bank Arena [600 Main St., Bridgeport] fairly often: shows, circuses, performances. It’s just crazy how close it is, how easy it is to get in and out—and these are big, national tours,” he says. “Every now and then, the Westport Country Playhouse puts on something that’s family friendly. But, by far, our most joyous theater outings are to the Staples Players high school musicals. We haven’t missed a single show since we moved to Westport in 2004! The talent, direction, and production values of those shows are high. Scary high. We love us those Staples Players!”
From the theater program to the Robotics Club at Staples, Westport’s emphasis on intellectually and artistically stimulating programs for youth comes as no surprise to Pogue. He says, “I’d expect nothing less of a town that’s populated by brainiacs, overachievers, and world-shapers. I kind of love that among all the bankers and CEOs, a subculture of fellow nerds are quietly thriving and having a great time.”
To unplug, Pogue heads out for a sail. He says, “My life changed when I discovered the sailboat rentals at Longshore [Sailing School]…We don’t have to worry about maintenance, setup, cleaning, we just show up and sail.”
His favorite spot is Compo Beach. “There’s nothing like the peace that falls at the end of a day, when the sun sets, the crowds take their little ones home to bed, and it feels like you’re at the edge of the world.”
More and more libraries are looking to Westport for guidance on a national library trend that is catching on like a hot new book title—Maker Spaces and innovative programs that go with them.
The latest library to visit? Boston Public Library.
Michael Colford, BPL's Director of Library Services, visited recently with BPL Director of Branches Christine Schonhart. He said he first heard about the Westport Library Maker Space last October, when it was featured on the cover of the preeminent national publication for libraries, Library Journal. He also tuned into an ALA (American Library Association) webinar later that month that was hosted by Library Director Maxine Bleiweis and Asst. Director Bill Derry, who spoke to over 800 attendees nationwide about the new structure inside the library’s main level designed as a place where people can connect, create and experiment.
The BPL visit to Westport follows trips by a string of other libraries—Larchmont, NY; Port Washington, NY; Trumbull, Darien and the CT state library. The Scarsdale, NY, school district sent representatives as well for a tour.
“It’s catching on. We believe in the Maker Space and its potential as a vital service and learning environment for library users,” said Asst. Director for Innovation and User Experience Bill Derry, who was recently interviewed on a NPR show called The Wonderful World of Tinkering. “The Maker Space merges industrial, creative and technology arts to offer something for almost everyone to participate as an observer or maker.”
Since its inauguration last summer with a press conference for members of the media as well as local and state elected officials, the Maker Space has been the venue for workshops, collaborative creating and a lab for learning about computer assisted design and 3D printing. Over 100 parents and children turned out for a recent session called “Making and Learning.” A local entrepreneur has produced a device to prevent teens from texting in their cars. Teen volunteers print out pieces for chess boards and name tags. A grandmother learned how to use a power drill. Passers-by can view 3D images in a photo gallery with 3D glasses, and learn how to view 3D photos in the nearby Annual Report. A solar panel on the roof of the Maker Space demonstrates how energy can be channeled to power a fan. And, plans are underway to install more 3D printers, with computers to go with them. Two state-of- the-art printers by Stratasys, currently on loan, quietly demonstrate the newest capabilities of 3D printing.
“The bigger picture of the Maker Space is about doing things differently,” said Bleiweis. “It’s an example of how we are evolving into a community think tank, answering a need for more democratic, participatory learning and creating.”
On April 27, the Westport Library will host the 2nd Mini Maker Faire, following Connecticut’s first Mini Maker Faire at the Library last year. Later in the spring, Library officials will speak at the Connecticut Library Association annual convention on the Maker movement, and innovative library services.