Visting Boulder’s “Building 61” Makerspace

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m in Boulder Colorado this week visiting family. On Friday afternoon I took some time out to visit the new Makerspace at the Boulder Public Library. It’s always interesting to see how other maker communities do things. I thought I’d share a few photos.

I barged in with no warning and introduced myself to Adam Watts, one of two library employees in charge of the space. The remainder of the staff are volunteers. Adam seemed happy to meet a kindred spirit and was kind enough to show me around.

There are three main rooms at Building 61; a small office-like room, a main workspace, and a (nascent) wood shop.

bms_map

I took no photos of the little office, but it’s a small room with a few standing-height desks and seems to be devoted to design work.

The main space has a work area in the center surrounded by specialized machines. They have three nice Lulzbot 3D printers.

bms_3d-printers

Next to them lives an Epilog 40 watt laser and its console computer.  Both LulzBot and Epilog are located in Colorado, not far away.  Adam says they like to deal locally when possible  … As do we!

bms_epilog-laser

On the opposite wall lives a new ceramics kiln; not quite operational yet.

bms_kiln

And, next to that, an electronics workstation, complete with a small CNC machine dedicated to circuit-board machining.

bms_electronics

The wood shop features a Table saw, chop saw, drill press, thickness sander, and jointer among other things.  The centerpiece is a brand new CNC router, about the same size as ours.  The wood shop is not quite up and running yet, but Adam says they’re getting close!

bms_shopbot bms_thickness-sander bms_table-saw

bms_chopsaw

The Makerspace is a relatively new offering at the library, made possible by a foundation grant. That explains where all those the shiny machines came from! They don’t have as much space as we do, but they seem to be making pretty effective use of the space they do have. Adam reports high public interest in all the programs offered so far.

Access to the space is free for everyone with a library card. Materials cost extra. Adam explained that he’d love to offer 24/7 access like we do, but that’s just not in the cards. The library requires them to have an employee present when the space is open, which is probably to be expected when dealing with a public entity. The offerings generally seem to be more structured as well: organized classes complemented by ‘drop in’ hours for various functions in the space.

But a lot of issues sounded very familiar: They’re figuring out how to set up the ceramics kiln without setting off the fire extinguishers; they had to cut a new hole in the wall for ventilation; … etc. I’m sure snags like this are common to every hacker space!

While I felt envious of all the spiffy new machines, I also felt proud of the volunteer spirit we foster at AMT. I think the energy we generate with our open-to-the-public classes and innovative programs like BoxBots makes up for a lot of grant money, and enables us to serve our community remarkably well. Of course, I don’t mean to suggest that we’d turn down your money, if you happen to be in a position to help!

Thanks Adam for taking the time, and best of luck with your new Makerspace! Boulder is lucky to have you!

 

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