Library to get a hackerspace

The Fayetteville Free Library is installing a hackerspace/fablab with 3D printers, CNC routers and other equipment, available free to the public as a community space for making. The project is led by librarian Lauren Smedley, who is basically MADE OF AWESOME.

Earlier this year, MAKE Magazine’s Phillip Torrone wrote a provocative article asking “Is it time to rebuild and retool libraries and make ‘techshops’?” In other words, should libraries join some of the other new community centers that are being created (such as General Assembly which we covered yesterday) and become “hackerspaces” or “makerspaces”?

“Yes!”, says librarian Lauren Smedley, who is in the process of creating what might just be the first maker-space within a U.S. public library. The Fayetteville Free Library where Smedley works is building a Fab Lab — short for fabrication laboratory — that will provide free public access to machines and software for manufacturing and making things.

So far, the Fab Lab is equipped with a MakerBot, a 3D printer that lets you “print” plastic pieces of your own design. The potential for 3D printers to revolutionize manufacturing as we know it is huge: imagine being able to design and then manufacture — or “print” — whatever you want. Moreoever, imagine the tools of manufacturing being in the hands of everyone, not just giant factories (and remember, since this is a public library, this is really putting the technology in the hands of everyone, not just those that can afford a membership at a traditional hackerspace).

The Public Library, Completely Reimagined (via Make)


  1. As a librarian i’m inspired.
    Gotta talk to the boss-lady about doing this at work.
    I’m pretty sure we can lose a few dozen microfiche shelves to make space…

  2. This is awesome and I hope a sign of things to come. As books move more and more into the digital space, libraries should evolve into community centers of learning/making for people of all ages. 

  3. Free use of cnc routers….wow, that is insane (and expensive I imagine). I’m moving to Fayetteville!

  4. I say the first thing to be made with the Makerbot should be an awesome life size statue of Lauren Smedley  to celebrate her awesomeness.

  5. I  like the idea of a Fab Lab in this library, she seems like she is operating more of a community center, and they don’t seem limited on space like most public libraries.

    I, however, continue to question the wisdom of donating any money towards cutting edge technology to a group who doesn’t know how to hold a camera correctly.

  6. Great project, FFL! Shooting your promo in 9:16 format certainly doesn’t telegraph to the world that you know which end is up. Skinny doesn’t usually work with interior space & is unforgiving toward the person behind the lens.

  7. We’ve got a sort of fab lab at the Allen County Public Library in Indiana as well.  It’s called the Maker Station, it’s a 10′ x 50′ trailer facility of the nonprofit group Tek Venture ,  and it will be here for a year or so. 

    What hasn’t been figured out (yet) is how to make it available for free or permanently.   Kudos to Fayetteville PL for leading the way on that front!

Comments are closed.