Central Resource Library’s popular MakerSpace, with its 3-D printer and audio/visual equipment, will get a major cash infusion over the next three years from a new partnership with Black & Veatch.
The $90,000 over the course of three years will allow the library to buy more and better recording equipment for the media studio, software and maybe more than one new 3-D printer, said Christopher Leitch, spokesman for the library. The company also plans to get involved in the use of that space by mentoring and offering programs for young inventors.
The grant is a second big boost for the MakerSpace area at the library’s main branch at 9875 W. 87th St., which currently has limited services. Earlier this year, officials began a remodeling of the 20-year-old building that will include a sixfold increase in space for the area. MakerSpace now occupies about 275 square feet. After remodeling, it will move to the current Carmack Room, giving it about 1,700 square feet.
The move will give users of the audio/visual studio a closed-off place to to work, Leitch said. Officials are still considering the specifics on what types of equipment to order, he said.
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The partnership has prompted the library to rename the area the “Black & Veatch MakerSpace.” It is the first time the library has named any of its space after a community partner, Leitch said. Other spaces, such as the Carmack Room, have been named after library professionals.
The MakerSpace opened in 2013 and has been a hit with the public — so much so that its equipment is usually booked well in advance. “The MakerSpace is Johnson County’s home for builders and innovators of all kinds and will be even better now thanks to Black & Veatch’s generosity,” said County Librarian Sean Casserley.
The partnership is part of the company’s effort to encourage learning in the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and math. Black & Veatch has partnerships with the Museum at Prairiefire in Overland Park and Sporting Kansas City, but the idea of adopting a portion of a library is new, said Becky Schieber, senior manager of charitable relations for the company.
The philosophy is to enhance learning and access to STEM projects in places where students work and study, she said, and volunteers from the company often mentor students with such things as robotics and other problem-solving projects, she said.
Over the next 30 years, globally there is $40 trillion of infrastructure needs, Schieber said. “Grooming problem solvers and engineers is absolutely core to what Black & Veatch does,” she said.
“We’re very excited,” with the improvements in the MakerSpace, she said.
Central Resource Library is scheduled to be reopened in 2016. Until then, a limited selection of items is available in a small area just inside its front door.