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'Making' it better: Westport Library gets $247K to enhance MakerSpace

Published 4:32 pm, Tuesday, October 1, 2013

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  • At top left of the frame, a toy helicopter controlled by Board of Education member Mark Mathias carries a banner into the Westport Public Library's MakerSpace last year. Photo: File Photo / Westport News
    At top left of the frame, a toy helicopter controlled by Board of Education member Mark Mathias carries a banner into the Westport Public Library's MakerSpace last year. Photo: File Photo

 

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The Westport Library has been awarded a $246,545 grant up upgrade its MakerSpace.

The grant, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington, D.C., was one of only two libraries in the nation selected this week to receive funding in that category this year.

This National Leadership Grant for Libraries will be used to demonstrate how opportunities to learn and practice innovation skills can change the perception of contemporary libraries and broaden the library audience, according to Marcia Logan, the library's communication coordinator.

The library was selected from a competitive field of applicants to receive funding for enhancing the year-old MakerSpace, declared a highly innovative project with broad potential impact for other libraries, she said.

The project, MakerSpace 2.0: Retinkering Libraries, proposes to transform the existing MakerSpace, which was inspired by the international Makers Movement, which is essentially a technology-based approach to Do-It-Yourself projects, using things like 3-D printers and robotics. The Westport proposals calls for introducing more hands-on maker experiences, workshops and makers-in-residence who will support innovation labs on topics such as robotics, LED creations and tinkering with home electronics repairs, Logan said.

Interactive Innovation Stations will introduce participants to the concepts and techniques of innovative thinking, she added.

Providence, R.I., Public Library was also selected to receive funding in this category from the IMLS, an independent agency of the federal government that is the main source of federal support for libraries and museums nationwide.

The organization works at the national level in coordination with state and local agencies to "sustain heritage, culture and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation, and support professional development," said Logan.

She added the grant will be shared with partners in the application -- the Information and Library Science Department of Southern Connecticut State University and the state Department of Library Services.