Let's Make

A guide for promoting making in libraries

Local business

Find out how libraries that have implemented maker activities support individuals and whole communities by offering specific services or opportunities for local business

  • making available 3D scanning and printing tools for prototyping new products,
  • offering co-working spaces equipped with hardware, software and office accessories,
  • providing access to state-of-the-art technology, including hardware and software often too specialized or expensive to own,
  • making available digital production tools for business related projects, (such as creating company’s websites, logos, flyers, brochures, mobile apps).

Examples, libraries and patrons stories:

Residents of Arlington Heights are encouraged to use a digital media lab in the library in order to create a brochure or a flyer for a small company, build a website for business use, develop one’s own mobile app:

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3D scanning and printing technologies available in library makerspaces and media labs (in most cases free-of-charge) provide an opportunity for companies or entrepreneurs to prototype their new products. Two young entrepreneurs from Sacramento (California, US), inspired by their love of snowboarding, have invented an “adventure tool” called the HexFlex, consisting of multiple screwdrivers, wrenches and a bottle opener. They prototyped the product in the Design Spot (a media lab in Sacramento Public Library) and used Kickstarter to fund production, raising over $70,968 from 2,572 project backers. “The Library’s Design Spot grant was for $77,500, so we like to think that the economic boon from this single project has nearly recouped the LSTA investment!”

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In the Creation Station (a media lab run by the Broward County Library, Florida US) entrepreneurs and non-profit groups have designed logos and promotional items, such as a plastic jigsaw puzzle used to promote autism awareness.

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Lily Born, a 10 year old girl invented a cup that her grandfather (who has Parkinson’s disease) could use without spilling. She and her father then created a promotional video for the invention using tools available in the Digital Media Lab in the Skokie Public Library (Illinosi, US). The video was advertised on Kickstarter and help successfully crowdfund the production of the cup they named the Kangaroo Cup.

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In the JobTechLab (a makerspace run by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US) patrons used the MakerBot to create game pieces for a prototype board game they had invented. Others used software available in the JobTechLab (Camtasia and Audacity) to produce screen-cast online tutorials.

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The Cleveland Public Library (Ohio, US) runs TechCentral Makerspace. A patron using the makerspace designed and 3D printed a unique piece of equipment for his photography business that he was unable to find commercially. Other patron used the MakerSpace laser engraver and software to produce crafts and novelties for his future online business.

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Digital Commons, Washington D.C.: The Dream Lab, part of the Digital Commons in D.C. Public Library in Washington D.C. is advertised as ‘a collaborative environment where entrepreneurs and non-profits can grow and drive local innovation’. Bi-monthly meetings of tech entrepreneurs are organized there who present their products to fellow startups and investors. MapStory, a Dream Lab partner, is collaborating with the Library’s Special Collections to digitize historic maps and manipulate data for public storytelling.

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Piscataway Public Library in their makerspace called MIY – Makeit yourself makes a 3D printer available to local companies for prototyping new products. Representatives of Wiplabs Designs LLc recorded a short video ‘Wiplabs Designs Loves Its Library’ to show their support for the library as part of a New Jersey Library Association initiative showing support of local libraries during National Library Week.

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In the Digital Studio at the Lexington Public Library (Kentucky, US) a great variety of workshops are offered including ‘Create a Logo using Illustrator Basics.

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The Library offers a free business information, advice and planning service. Trained advisors help people who wish to start a business, grow a business or run a business. Aspiring entrepreneuurs may join the Enterprise Club which meets regularly in the library, get business advice, share experiences and use networking opportunities.

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