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Arlington Public Library opens free makerspace

Central Library’s new makerspace “The Shop” opened April 23 (Image via library website)

A new makerspace has arrived in Arlington — in a library.

Arlington Public Library announced Tuesday that their new makerspace is now open in the Ballston Central Library on 1015 N. Quincy Street.

Called “The Shop,” the free makerspace comes equipped with woodworking tools, soldering irons, circuit parts and Raspberry Pi for coding projects, Wacom tablets and pens, 3D printers, Cameo cutters, sewing machines, tools for sewing, among other tools.

“The Shop provides access to tools and software and is staffed with Maker mentors to help you get your project off the ground,” said library Director Diane Kresh, who added that APL is “excited to promote the Maker movement and offer collaborative spaces to meet the evolving needs of our community.”

The Shop is divided between a workshop and tables where attendees can take classes.

This week, makers will teach participants how to upcycle jewelry and preserve movies on 8mm or VHS tapes. The Shop at least partially fills a gap created by the closure of Techshop in Crystal City in 2017.

Hours are Mondays through Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m., with extended openings and children’s classes planned for the summer, staff say.

APL joins a nationwide trend of libraries investing in crafting spaces. D.C. Public Library offers three multimedia and fabrication labs.

“Libraries have a long history of reinventing themselves in order to stay relevant,” APL spokesman Henrik Sundqvist told ARLnow. “I think the maker movement is a perfect example of just that. to kind of encourage, play, experimentation and encourage critical thinking.”

APL previously announced plans to build a mobile lab later this year, to travel to different parts of the county.

“We’re going to ready in the fall,” Sundqvist said Tuesday. He noted the library wasn’t able to release details on the project yet.

The Shop was funded with part of the budget the county board allocated for renovations at the Central Library, Sundqvist said.

Images from Library website.

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