Library Commission taking Makerspaces to rural communities

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LINCOLN, Nebr (KOLN) The Makerspace movement is a way in which your creativity can become reality through the use of tools and machinery provided for community use.

It is becoming increasingly attractive in larger cities across the country -- but the Nebraska Library Commission is using a half-million grant to take the idea to rural Nebraska.

The Commission has used the grant to purchase for mobile labs, and are currently in the process of spreading them over 30 Nebraska communities for 20 weeks at a time.

Makerspace is not only an outlet for the hobbyist -- it also spurs entrepreneurship.

"We see people who come in here and use the space for a month at time and then maybe we never see them again because they are able to quickly identify, hey, if I were able to buy this piece of equipment and set it up at home...all of the sudden I can make a business out of this," says Max Wheeler, instructional designer for the Library Innovation Project.

"We are installing this equipment right into the library and the reason why we are doing that is that we want the community to discover that this really does fit in their community and then they can take off with that," says Jo Ann McManus, project manager of the Library Innovation Studios.

The hope is, by the end of 20 weeks, communities will be left with an impression of the difference having this equipment can make. The ultimate goal would be for the community to then invest in tools that are there permanently.

"Ten times out of 10, they are always really sad to see the equipment go," Wheeler says. "It was a really big boost for the library and the community it was in. So by taking the equipment away, we are then kind of empowering them to figure out what they need as a community."

Communities such as Plattsmouth, Hastings, Beatrice, Geneva, and Nebraska City have already been accepted as demonstration sites. But the Commission is still looking for a few more locations. You can apply before March 29 to host a Makerspace in your community by going to the Library Commission website at http://www.nlc.state.ne.us/grants/InnovationStudios/