Anythink Brighton Awarded Grant to Design Teen Makerspace

Teens will get unique opportunities to make new creations in the makerspace at Anythink Brighton. Photo courtesy of Mt. Elliott Makerspace and Detroit Public Library’s HYPE Teen Center.

Collaborative Space Gives Teens Tools to Create, Innovate

Anythink Brighton was awarded a Library Services and Technology Act grant for $18,849 funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to design a makerspace for teenagers in its library. Makerspaces, also known as hackerspaces, are creative community workspaces where people can build and experiment with art, craft and technology projects while sharing tools and ideas with other community members.

Scheduled to open by the end of the year, the makerspace at Anythink Brighton will serve as an idea lab and creation space for teens to explore their creativity and cultivate their imaginations in interactive, hands-on ways. The makerspace will be incorporated into Anythink Brighton’s multipurpose room as a separate space where teens have free access to state-of-the-art tools and materials for crafts, robotics, textile design, digital photography and 3D printing. There will also be a “computer guts” area where teens can take apart a computer to learn how all of its parts work together.

“The makerspace is another example of the interactive experience library that defines Anythink," says Anythink Director Pam Sandlian Smith. “This grant award provides the resources to help meet not only the needs, but dreams of our community. I can hardly wait to see what happens.”

This new initiative supports Anythink’s mission to “open doors for curious minds” by providing an influential space that fosters 21st-century skills as teens pursue passions, pick up new hobbies, and collaborate on school projects in a whole new way.

“The makerspace at Anythink represents a unique means for the community to explore how the library is a place for more than books,” says Eugene Hainer, assistant commissioner at the Colorado Department of Education, administrators of the grant. “This innovative project will provide the opportunity for teens and others to explore their creative, out-of-the-box side, with access to tools that turn their ideas into reality.”

Although makerspaces have grown increasingly popular around the world in the last decade, makerspaces in libraries are becoming a newer trend. Unlike independently run makerspaces that operate on monthly membership dues, library makerspaces offer free workspace and access to professional tools, making them invaluable assets to their communities.

“These days, it’s hard to get hands-on access to anything for free” says Anythink Brighton manager Dara Schmidt. “There’s no place where you can just walk in and use a sewing machine or print a 3D action figure. There’s no place you can go for free and say, ‘Let’s try and take this computer apart and see what happens.’”

Once the makerspace opens, Anythink Brighton staff will mentor teens in the space to support learning, inspire creativity, and nurture opportunities for the next entrepreneur, inventor or artist to emerge. They will also use the space to enhance and expand the library’s existing programs. As the makerspace develops, Schmidt says that Anythink Brighton will build partnerships with community organizations to give teens more innovative opportunities at their library.