City approaches county about participating in “makerspace” project in auditorium

YORK – York Library Director Deb Robertson and York City Administrator Sue Crawford have approached the York County Commissioners about using county ARPA (federal COVID relief) funds to financially participate in the creation of a “makerspace” project in the basement of the city auditorium.

The two met with the commissioners to make the library’s annual budget request and report. However, the majority of the conversation was about the proposal.

Robertson explained the theory of creating a STEM makerspace in the auditorium basement, as an extension of the library’s offerings, because there is no available room for such a project in the library itself.

“Makerspaces have become commonplace for libraries across the country,” Robertson explained.

A makerspace is a place where people with shared interests, especially in computing and technology, can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment and knowledge. In some makerspaces, there are things like 3D printers, laser cutters, various milling devices, welding equipment, etc. They are to foster innovation through hands-on experimentation. Participants have the opportunity to be creative and apply personalized learning strategies to make changes to existing concepts or develop their own ideas, methods or products.

Robertson said this project would offer career collaboration.

Crawford thanked the commissioners for their annual contribution to the library and said the city is happy to serve all the constituents in York County.

Crawford said, “ARPA funds provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunities; that said, the schools, the university, extension office, parks and rec, the library, we’ve had conversations about creating this project. And we are here today because we thought this could also be an opportunity for the county to make an investment in a legacy project.”

She also noted the city’s legacy project is replacing all the old lead water lines in the city.

“If you would like the opportunity to invest in this legacy project, we thought we’d inquire and offer that ability,” Crawford said to the county board.

Commissioner Daniel Grotz asked if the makerspace would be free to the public, with Robertson replying that’s the intention.

For the project to take place, renovations would have to take place in the auditorium as far as wiring and network cables, as a start.

Then would come the purchase of equipment like laser cutters, welding equipment, just as examples.

“This would help develop cottage businesses,” she explained. “This is a very infant project, as we are just getting started.”

She also said equipment training would be required for users who would work with experience volunteers.

Crawford added that this could be a great hands-on learning space for students in high school and college.

“What is the big vision?” asked Commissioner Woody Ziegler.

“To have that space filled with needed equipment,” Robertson said. “It would have an economic impact with the development of businesses and skills.”

She said there has also been interest from a corporate sponsor and they would seek out more.

“This today is a foundational request and then we’d seek out grants and other funds into the future,” Robertson said.

The renovation request for the project was for $250,000.

The commissioners will consider the request during the budget process this summer.

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