MidPointe Library West Chester Introduces Innovation Pointe 

By Staff Report

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MidPointe Library West Chester will give patrons a new reason to visit the library – to make, create and innovate with Innovation Pointe. The public makerspace, filled with tools and technology, will open later this month. 
“We are about to open a makerspace called Innovation Pointe at our West Chester location, and we are so excited about it. It is going to be amazing,” said Cari Hillman, community engagement director, of the MidPointe Library System.
She said the new makerspace will have a variety of equipment such as vinyl printers, sewing machines, 3D printers, laser engraving, a sublimation printer, button makers, film and video conversion equipment and much more.
“We are really excited to get the makerspace launched. Of course, use of all the machines will be free. Patrons will pay for consumables, such as vinyl and things like that,” Hillman said.
There will be different stations set up within the makerspace. One patron may be using the laser engraver, while another guest can be using the embroidery machine. This is the first makerspace within the MidPointe Library System. In the past, the library has had a variety of kits available as well as other programs that have focused on making and creativity. 
“The library is all about learning, all the time. Obviously, STEM and STEAM activities are huge, so we feel like this is a great opportunity to expand our programming with children as well as serving as a business incubator for adults,” Hillman said.
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She said the library did extensive research on dozens of other makerspaces, and they were thrilled to find out that folks were using them to do start-ups for small businesses. If you are a small business, and you need a banner, you can print one in the makerspace for a fraction of the cost that you might pay somewhere else. 
“This will be the only makerspace in our service area,” Hillman said, “And, obviously, the most accessible one to be in a public library and accessible for free.” 
To prepare the makerspace, the staff of the library visited other makerspaces throughout Ohio and Kentucky. They also called and talked to experts, who have operated makerspaces in the past to learn best practices. They also have a team comprised of experts, who have all worked in makerspaces before. 
“I see the makerspace as this incredible creativity incubator. It’s giving people this opportunity to imagine something, and then, make it a reality,” said Hillman. 
She said it will be fun to dream up something you want to create, and you can make it right there. Classes will be offered for patrons. Once patrons establish their skill level, they will be able to use the space more independently. 
Makerspaces are typically used by patrons of all ages, who are working on projects, from children and teens to adults and senior adults. These spaces give everyone a chance to be creative. Those who use the makerspace are encouraged to have a MidPointe library card. 
“The library is all about access, and this is another avenue for that,” Hillman said.
A space at the West Chester location was renovated to accommodate Innovation Pointe. It was previously a large computer lab. More and more, patrons have their own devices, and the computers were getting less use. So, the space was divided in half. One half will remain a computer lab and a classroom space. The other half will become the new makerspace. The West Chester location is also incredibly busy and library officials anticipate there will be a big demand for the makerspace at this location.  
“This is such an opportunity. We all get so busy with school or work, but this is an opportunity to think outside of the box and do something fun and creative,” Hillman said.
There will be a soft opening of Innovation Pointe around Mon., Jan. 20, and an official ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held shortly thereafter. Patrons can look for more details on the MidPointe Library System’s Facebook page and website at www.midpointelibrary.org/. Innovation Pointe will be available during regular library hours at the West Chester location.
What is a Makerspace?
A library makerspace is a “Do-it-Yourself” learning center where patrons of any experience level can gain practical skills through hands-on learning. Each library makerspace is uniquely designed and resourced based on community needs, interests, and staff capabilities. Patrons can utilize the library equipment and software to turn their creative ideas into physical objects that they can share with their friends, family and the community.  Library makerspaces offer access to the building blocks of creative making. Innovation Pointe will provide educational and program experiences to empower participants in making full use of makerspace resources through skill-building. Innovation Pointe fulfills MidPointe Library’s mission of, “Enriching our community through access and experience,” by providing access to a variety of tools and equipment that allow patrons to make and explore. 

How Does Innovation Pointe Work?
Innovation Pointe welcomes patrons of all ages. Patrons can utilize equipment without charge after acquiring necessary knowledge, skills, and safety training. Patrons will complete “badging”—a practical learning process similar to earning a skill merit badge. Innovation Pointe staff will be available to facilitate patron learning and, as such, do not operate equipment for patron projects. Children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian so they can have the best possible experience.
To find out more about Innovation Pointe, located in MidPointe Library West Chester, visit https://www.midpointelibrary.org/page/innovationpointe
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Serving all of eastern Butler County, The MidPointe Library System serves the cities of Middletown, Trenton, and Monroe and the townships of West Chester, Liberty, Lemon, Madison, and Wayne. The MidPointe Library System has five branch locations in Middletown, Liberty, Monroe, Trenton and West Chester. 
MidPointe also offers a bookmobile service. The 30-foot vehicle features a collection of thousands of Library materials for all ages. Library programming operates out of the bookmobile, visiting community events and over 20 schools per month. Other frequent stops include local parks, community organizations, senior living facilities and much more. Anyone who lives, works or attends school in the state of Ohio is eligible to apply for a MidPointe Library System library card.