The public library’s upcoming makerspace and STEAM learning area, dubbed “The Hive,” is set to open this fall, according to library staff.
The Hive will include laser printers and various other digital fabrication tools, an extended reality lab focused on virtual and augmented reality, and two multimedia recording studios.
“It is, first and foremost, a learning space and a creating space,” says Emily St. Germain, manager of STEAM programming. “This will be a place where patrons of all ages can come in and learn some of these design processes and how to utilize specific tools that they might not otherwise have access to and create with them. What we’re really excited about is that a number of our partnerships with different in organizations in Cambridge are going to enable us to provide some really excellent workshops, in addition to things that our own library staff will be providing.”
“It will be a Fab Lab,” she adds, referring to the MIT-born recipe for a digital fabrication space. “This makerspace will be the first Fab Lab creative space in Cambridge, where it started, that will be free and openly accessible to the public.”
The Hive is one initiative within the library’s STEAM push, which has been a priority since a dive into how Cambridge’s library compares to others showed that Cambridge was trailing in technology education and outreach, according to Manager of Innovation and Technology Reinhard Engels. Other STEAM initiatives include a TED Talks-esque lectures called “Horizons,” a Girls Who Code club, and LEGO time.
The new area at the main library will likely be used in three main ways, according to St. Germain: workshops, open-studio hours when anyone can use the equipment, and reserved time slots, which Engels explains would be particularly helpful for tools like the recording studios.
To Engels, a makerspace is a natural fit for the library’s mission.
“People talk about digital literacy as being a new, important literacy that people need to function in today’s society, and on a very simple, straightforward level, literacy is something libraries have always been very much about,” he says. “We’ve now, for a long time, been in the business of providing access to computers and knowledge on the internet. This is another extension of that.”