North Riverside Library unveils new maker space

'Build Guild' allows patrons to engage their creative sides

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ANTHONY LANDAHL

If library books and movies don't suit your fancy, then maybe a laser engraver will. 

And, you can give it a spin at the North Riverside Public Library, which opened its maker space, dubbed the Build Guild, in December.

The room features a laser engraver, embroidery machine, poster printer, button maker and digital music equipment, to name a few. The Build Guild offers patrons access to use the equipment, and the library will offer group classes beginning in the spring. 

The equipment and furniture for the room were funded through several grants that the library received. 

Library Director Natalie Starosta said maker spaces are a growing national library trend. She said in the short time since the Build Guild's inception, many have expressed their surprise that libraries could offer a space like it. 

Starosta implemented a similar idea at a previous job in 2013, called Maker Kits. Those kits were stocked with various expensive items and tools that could be checked out. At North Riverside, the Library of Things service offers hotspots, gaming systems and exercise equipment for checking out. 

Now on a grander scale, Starosta said the Build Guild will serve the community in a new way.

"We love it," she said. "We are really excited to be able to appeal to more people, to be able to meet the needs in our communities that are changing. All of our needs are always changing."

In the past, any technological instruction was completed one-on-one in an appointment with a library staff member. The library is now using the space for teen DIY and music classes and technology help classes. 

"We're trying to go towards the small classes," Starosta said. "That way people get to know each other and they're working with the staff member as well. But, they also get to lean on each other and work together."

The Build Guild is operated by one staff member during open lab hours on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays. Staff members will help operate the machines and public usage is a first-come, first-served basis. 

Starosta said that a set of standards are being written up so those who wish to work independently may go through the training to do so. Group demonstration sessions are also being planned.

The idea of people coming together and being creative is Starosta's vision for the room. 

"I am hoping people come in and make a day of it -- hang out with their friends and work on some of these projects that they've always wanted to do," Starosta said.

The laser engraver is among one of the more popular machines. It can scan documents or recipes and imprint them onto a piece of wood, engrave a monogram on a laptop or cut designs on wedding invitations. Starosta said a second laser engraver and a 3D printer are the next items to add to the Build Guild. 

"People seem really excited," she said. "The only downside everyone has told us is they would like [the room] to be bigger. But the only way to do that is to take out my office [next door]."

The Build Guild will be open on Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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