Don’t look now, but the Delaware County District Library (DCDL) just got even techier with the opening of the Maker Annex inside of the Willis Education Center, 74 William St., Room 210, Delaware.
According to Nicole Fowles, DCDL communications manager, the new annex is an independently funded partnership with Delaware City Schools, Strengthening Families, and Friends of the Library.
“It was dreamed up over a year ago,” she said. “It didn’t come out of nowhere. It’s part of our initiative to answer the community’s needs for things they want to see. We have the perfect partnership with Strengthening Families and Delaware City Schools.”
Fowles said it was something that would eventually become a part of the “library’s repertoire.” She said DCDL had already been budgeting for a lot of the bigger pieces such as the vinyl cutter, sewing machines, laser cutter and engraver.
“This has been a really beautifully funded partnership with Strengthening Families, which there is little to no cost to DCDL,” she said. “Earlier this May, Friends of the Library had a fundraiser. They did a Kentucky Derby party that they called Derby Day, which raised about $5,000 for the cost of the space.”
Fowles added a majority of the funds from Friends of the Library were used to purchase the materials for the 3-D printer and vinyl cutter.
The annex allows patrons the options of using a vinyl cutter, sewing machines, Bolt Robotics kits, laser cutter, engraver, laptop and desktop computers, and a button maker to bring their creations off the drawing board into the real world.
With a Makey Makey kit, patrons can turn anything conductive into a controller and program it to play video games with or simply make a piano keyboard out of bananas.
A Rokenbok construction kit allows patrons to build and create a variety of structures with motion when coding is added with Rokduino. Also, a Sphero Bolt robot, which has an array of sensors, can be programmed to follow a set of instructions given by the patron.
Patrons are only limited by their imaginations in what they can create in the Maker Annex, and the only cost is the cost of the materials used on a project.
“Anything in here is available for anyone to use whenever they come in,” Fowles said. “Everything is free to use. The only thing we are charging for is the actual product used.”
According to Kellen Freeman, tech training specialist, anything printed on the 3-D printer is charged by weight, or in this case with the 3-D printer, it is charged by the gram.
“The printing material comes as a filament on spools,” he said. “We buy the spools by weight. It’s easier to do it that way so we can see how much we get out of a spool.”
“Similarly with the vinyl cutter, we charge by the square foot of the vinyl used,” Fowles said. “The annex has several products to choose from, but if there is anything special needed for a project, we work with a few different companies and can order what is needed.”
Fowles said patrons can provide their own products as long they comply with the requirements of the machine manufacturer.
Freeman added, “Certain materials, especially anything with vinyl in it or PVC plastic, can not be engraved because it will release deadly fumes. As long as we know ahead of time what the project is and what material is going to be used, we can work with the people.”
Fowles said during weekdays, there are school students in the building using the Maker Annex, but it’s also open to the public.
“That is one of the things that we really want to stress,” she said. “During our open hours, which vary throughout the week, we hit the student population and working adults in the evening.”
According to the Maker Annex staff, the best part is if someone doesn’t feel like going to the Maker Annex, he or she can work from home.
“You don’t even have to step foot into the Maker Annex if you didn’t want to,” Fowles said. “Submit it online, we’ll get it printed for you, we’ll put it in a bag with a barcode, and send it to the nearest library branch.”
The Maker Annex is open Monday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday 12 to 5 p.m., Wednesday 2 to 7 p.m. and Thursday 12 to 5 p.m.
For additional information on the Maker Annex, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 740-972-6742. For online submissions, visit https://www.delawarelibrary.org/content/basics-3d-design.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.