LAKEFIELD — Renovations are underway at the Selwyn Public Library’s Lakefield branch to make way for a permanent, first-of-its-kind makerspace that will offer learners of all ages, along with budding businesspeople, access to affordable cutting-edge technology.
“To date, we have cleared out the space which was once our Renewed Classics Store (new-to-you store), installed new doors and completed drywall/patchwork,” said Sarah Hennessey, the Selwyn Public Library’s CEO and chief librarian, adding that the area will be painted this week.
In the meantime, new equipment is being ordered to fill the future makerspace.
The shared creative and collaborative space will feature 3D, vinyl, laser and colour printers, along with laptops, sewing machines and a variety of hands-on science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) kits. A former vault will be transformed into a podcasting suite, according to Hennessey.
Once complete, it will be the first permanent makerspace in Peterborough County.
Along with providing community members with new and emerging educational tools and resources — nurturing creative thinking and problem-solving skills — the makerspace also aims to create opportunities for local, small business startups, allowing them to access printers and other equipment without having to spend large sums of money.
“It will be accessible to the public and we’ll also be running library programs in the space; probably trying to work with local schools as well as local businesses to access equipment to cut down on operating costs,” said Hennessey.
The makerspace project became a reality thanks to a Resilient Communities Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Selwyn Township and the library received $78,200 in provincial funding after applying for the grant in the fall of 2020.
The Resilient Communities Fund was established to help non-profit organizations bounce back from the pandemic.
“We definitely experienced challenges throughout the pandemic. There was a period of time when we were completely closed for a period of four months,” Hennessey said.
Faced with branch closures and a reduction of staff and volunteers, Hennessey said the Selwyn Public Library was forced to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moving to a new model of service delivery, the library adopted curbside pickup and embraced virtual programming.
“We did really pivot and we moved as many of our programs online as we could — offering online book clubs and trivia nights and genealogy programs,” Hennessey said.
The library also bolstered access to ebooks and online streaming of movies and television, she added.
The Selwyn Public Library, which returned to its pre-pandemic hours at the start of the month, operates two other branches in Bridgenorth and Ennismore.
The library plans to open the makerspace in the summer or fall of next year.
“It will be an avenue where people can come together and explore new forms of technology that they might not have otherwise,” Hennessey said.
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner