Fab Lab Partners with San Diego Library to Bring Making to the Masses

SDPL Labs: Partnering with Fab Lab for Fabulous Maker Programs

by Uyen Tran

When we first started our Maker Lab at San Diego Public Library, we learned very quickly that to have a successful makerspace, you really need to have a community. Luckily for us, we had Katie Rast, the Executive Director of Fab Lab San Diego. I met Katie while attending a meetup for San Diego Mini Maker Faire in 2013 as we were opening our Maker Lab at the library. After having worked really well together at Maker Faire, Katie and I decided to team up to host various programs at the library to show our community what making is about and how energetic the Maker community is in San Diego. To this day, Fab Lab is still our main partner when it comes to maker programs at the library.

To have a successful makerspace, you really need to have a community.

Fab Lab, not to be confused with being a fabulous laboratory, stands for “fabrication laboratory.” It started as part of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms’ educational outreach program, and is part of its research into digital and fabrication computation. There are hundreds of Fab Labs around the world, and this month, they are convening in Boston, Massachusetts for their 11th annual Fab Lab Conference.

One of the most popular programs that we team up with Fab Lab for yearly is the Fab Lab Maker Camp program where campers learn about 3d modeling, robotics, electronics, and programming. This program started at our Central Library, but has since expanded to La Jolla Branch Library. It runs for one week and uses some of the projects and materials provided by Maker Camp.

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Fab Lab Maker Camp at San Diego Central Library in 2014.

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Fab Lab Maker Camp. Picture is courtesy of Fab Lab San Diego.

In addition to the camp, Fab Lab currently runs a monthly 3d modeling workshop at our La Jolla Library location and held programming workshops at our Malcolm X Library. In spring 2014, they loaned us a Mobile Fab Lab for a month at our North University Community Branch Library when we first started rolling out maker programs at our library.

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On the left, two friends are learning how to program a Raspberry Pi at San Diego Central Library for Pi Day 2015. On the right, two sisters are learning how to design a 3d model at San Diego Public Library Malcolm X Branch Library.

Almost two years after working with Fab Lab San Diego, our two organizations are still working very closely to inspire individuals to make and innovate. As we work on expanding our Maker Lab to the 3rd Floor of our library, Fab Lab San Diego will be teaching monthly 3-4 hour workshops on design for entrepreneurs. These workshops will include everything from how to design a 3d model, to how to use a laser cutter, to how to create your own circuit boards. The workshops will show participants how they can use new rapid prototyping tools to decrease their manufacturing time and increase opportunities for businesses. Our two organizations will join forces again in October to host our second Startup Weekend event this year.

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Earlier this year, I was invited to Fab Lab San Diego’s new facility to celebrate the re-launch of their lab at a new location. Picture is courtesy of Fab Lab San Diego.

So how do you find out if there’s a Fab Lab in your area? Check out Fab Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps support the growing Fab Lab network. If you do not have Fab Lab by your library, there might still be other makerspaces in the area that you can team up with. If that does not work, why not join the Fab Lab network by creating one yourself? Otherwise, you can try one of our favorite maker activities at the library and Fab Lab San Diego, a paper circuit. We love paper circuits because they are fun, cheap, and simple to incorporate making into your regular library programs.

In our next post, our Teen Services Librarian, Monnee Tong, will talk about Maker Faire San Diego. Our library will have a booth at the event and it will be Monnee’s first Maker Faire so make sure to come back and see what she has to say about it!

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Victor Fimbres

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