Matt Wildrick/The Commuter.

Learning commons adds Makerspace

By Ryan Slicer

Frederick Community College’s library opened this semester with a completely renovated space and a new name to go along with it—the Learning Commons. With the renovations come more study space, updated technology, consolidation with the Tutoring & Writing Center and the addition of a digital Makerspace.

Makerspaces are just like they sound—a place for making things, often in the areas of science, technology, engineering, math and art design. Librarians across the country are finding that Makerspaces offer a way for students and communities to create and collaborate using the resources and technologies that are so readily available in today’s world.

“The idea is less about books and more about community,” said FCC Librarian Colleen McKnight, who came up with the idea of bringing a Makerspace to the college.

The space has room for upwards of a dozen people to work together on all manner of projects. The specific technology in FCC’s digital Makerspace includes three iMac computers, a Windows computer, a scanner, a color printer and an HDTV. Computer software includes the full Adobe Creative Suite including Photoshop and Illustrator, additionally the computers also have Windows Movie Maker, AutoCAD and other creativity software.

The entire Learning Commons makeover was a collaborative effort spanning two years of planning and six months of renovations, but McKnight specifically spearheaded the digital Makerspace itself. Like many librarians, she’s making sure students are equipped with the tools to succeed in an ever-changing world.

Libraries and community centers across the United States have seen an uptick in these new Makerspaces over the last several years with new and emerging technologies, most notably 3D printing. While 3D printing has existed for some time now, it remained almost exclusively a part of professional circles and was never easily accessible by the general public.

Recent advancements in the technology and a steady decline in the costs have made it a more appealing notion for community, high school and college libraries. It is not yet a part of FCC’s Makerspace but McKnight fully intends to bring 3D printing to the Learning Commons in the near future.

Students on campus are aware of the renovations but some have only heard of the new Makerspace in passing.

“I would definitely utilize it,” said Isaac Clutter an American Sign Language major after learning the specifics of the Makerspace’s technologies.

“It has a scanner? Now that’d be useful. I’ve needed to scan PDFs before and had to drive home just to scan them,” said Blayne Purcell a Robotics Engineering major.

Both Clutter and Purcell are looking forward to 3D printing coming to the Makerspace.

The Frederick Community College Learning Commons and digital Makerspace are located on the second floor of Linganore Hall. Students can reserve the Makerspace online or in person at the Learning Commons main desk.

The Makerspace is open Monday – Thursday 7:45 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Friday 7:45 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.   Students and faculty are required to have their FCC ID on hand when checking in to use their Makerspace reservation.

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