Yesterday, nearby Pasadena Public Library held their STEAM Fair, a celebration of a bunch of things that you could learn from a book alone… but it’s more fun when accompanied by hands-on activities. Though the event seemed to be mainly geared towards elementary school age children, there were smattering of other things appealing to other age brackets.
My primary interest in this event is that it marks the official opening of the library’s Innovation Lab. It’s a small room with several pieces of equipment with maker appeal. There are two 3D printers that appear to be LulzBot TAZ 6 which are more capable printers than what I have at home. There are two sewing/embroidery machines, a CNC engraver, and my primary interest: a laser cutter. Made by Full Spectrum Laser, this machine is from their hobby line.
I enjoyed playing with the laser cutter at Tux-Lab. Not quite enough for me to spend the considerable amount of money to buy my own, but enough for me to seek out alternate sources so I have options when Tux-Lab equipment is not available.
Overall it is encouraging to see libraries expand beyond a collection of books. I’ve read of libraries experimenting with how they can appeal to the maker audience, and it’s great to have a local library exploring this space. What happens next will depend on the kind of library patrons this facility would attract. Would people embark on interesting creations of their own? Or will these machines be fated to replicate designs downloaded from the internet? Time will tell.