All the cool stuff is at the library

Makerspace now open at Okanagan Regional Library’s Kelowna branch

The Makerspace at Okanagan Regional Library’s Kelowna branch is built to encourage STEAM programming – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math – and help creators do what they do best: create.

The digital age has spawned an exciting new wave of creativity.

But what if you have a creative spark, great new ideas, or just a desire to muck around with new technology and tools, but you don’t have the hardware, the software, or the wherewithal to indulge your digital muse?

The Makerspace at Okanagan Regional Library’s Kelowna branch is for you!

The space is built to encourage STEAM programming – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math – and help creators do what they do best: create.

You’ll find a 3D printer, a Cricut vinyl cutter, Dobot Robotic Arm, Sphero Robots, the full Adobe creative suite, a recording studio, video capability and more.

“We’re at the unique intersection of the cultural district and the tech centre of Kelowna,” said Christopher Stephenson, the branch’s head librarian. “There are a lot of talented people and mentors standing by to share their expertise and help the community learn new skills together.”

The library already runs engineering and coding clubs for preteens and teens. Club members with an interest and an aptitude can book the space and explore the tools on their own or with their group. “That leads to new hobbies and might lead in a different direction of future study,” Stephenson said. “We hope to be a feeder location for some of the great programs that happen at the college level.”

Building community connections

The library is building connections among existing arts groups, Women in Trades, First Nations, schools and homeschool associations. With the B.C. educational curriculum updated to include design thinking, the Makerspace can complement what schools are doing. And while it sounds like something for technologically advanced young people, Stephenson said it’s an extension of the existing role of public libraries – to make information available to everyone.

“As the world gets more complex, we have young kids all the way up to seniors who may be falling behind with technology, but still need to function in the world. We’re there to help bring people up to speed,” he said.

If you want to see the Makerspace in action, and experiment with the possibilities, the library offers public open hours on Wednesday nights and Saturdays. There will be some training available.

“We’ll offer some basic training. Once you develop the aptitudes, we’ll allow people to come and play and explore,” Stephenson said.

“The page hasn’t been written yet for what the Makerspace will become,” he said. “It really depends on the unique needs and desires of the community, so that’s what we’re interested in hearing.”

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See the Makerspace in action, and experiment with the possibilities, during public open hours on Wednesday nights and Saturdays.

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