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The community makerspace in the science wing of the Library has recently been reorganized and remodeled, including additional tools and the hiring of two highly qualified staff.

Those interested in woodworking, metalworking, electronics, 3-D printing, sewing, and more have a full range of tools available to them, with plans to expand the current hours.

Co-directors of the new makerspace are Dora Pollak and Kris Johnson, both of whom are lifelong tool users. They are available to show how to use the tools and to give safety instruction.

“Everyone begins with basic safety training to be eligible to use the tools,” Ms. Pollak said. Mr. Johnson said that the training would typically take less than an hour. Additional training may be required for individual tools.

Their vision for the makerspace is to create a “community of makers and doers, with people teaching each other and sharing knowledge,” Ms. Pollak said. “It’s an opportunity for the community to come together — students, staff, faculty, and people living in town.”

Mr. Johnson said people need to bring their own ideas and materials, and that projects have ranged from making furniture and metal firewood holders to an ice boat for sailing on ice and a rocket stove, an efficient wood-burning stove.

IMG_0535The woodworking tools include power saws, planers, sanders, drills, and hand tools. One of the power saws is a “safe saw” that automatically stops if it senses it’s about to cut a finger rather than wood.

Metalworking tools include a welder, cutting torch, forge, metal saws, and a metal grinder. New tools for sheet metal working have been added, including a shear, roller, and break.

The makerspace now has a dedicated electronics room that includes a 3-D printer. Also available is an Arduino, a small electronic prototyping controller that is easily programmable to respond to various stimuli, Mr. Johnson said.

One project in the works that uses the Arduino is a light bulb that changes color based on ambient temperature.

The makerspace is currently open 7:00-10:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening and 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Plans are to increase the hours so the makerspace is open every weekday evening. One of the directors is available whenever the makerspace is open.

Use of the makerspace is free for students. There will be a discounted price for faculty and staff, and a monthly fee for those from the community.

Look for announcements of a grand opening, with more detail about hours and prices. The location is room 141 in the science wing of the MIU Library.

Ms. Pollak holds a master’s degree in architecture, and Mr. Johnson holds bachelors degrees in environmental science and sociology.

Jim Karpen is a writer by trade, with a special focus on technology. He has a Ph.D. in English and studied the impact of the computerization of language. In addition to writing for iPhone Life magazine, he has also been writing a column about the Internet for the Iowa Source since 1994. He also edits and publishes the MUM Review.