Library opens The Forge

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An octupus made on a 3-D printer at the North Branch Library in Denton is shown Monday.
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Computer space offers variety of tools for sophisticated users

A new kind of computer space opened at the North Branch Library in Denton on Monday, one that provides various tools to high-end users, including a 3-D printer.

Library officials have been planning and providing for The Forge since they got City Council approval last year for the new “maker space” as part of an additional allocation to the budget.

Early Monday, before officially opening the doors at 3 p.m., City Council members got a small tour of the room now outfitted with high-powered computers, software and peripherals for use by more sophisticated users.

Technology librarian Trey Ford likened the 3-D printer to a hot-glue gun as the loop of special plant-based, purple plastic squirted onto a platform into the shape of small comb, one of several objects he’s “printed” as he has set up the new maker space for the community.

Branch manager Kimberly Wells said that after all the planning and work trying to anticipate what people need, the next phase for The Forge is what’s most exciting for the library.

“Next, we see where people are going to drive it,” Wells said. “We know they’ll come tell us what they want.”

The new space includes the equipment needed to make sound, music and podcasts, edit video and create digital art as well as work with computer hardware and software design.

Some creative work requires expensive technology that many individuals can’t afford. A few Texas cities have membership-based maker spaces, but the library staff found little of such resources available in Denton.

The city budgeted about $13,000 to outfit The Forge, which includes the 3-D printer and a year’s worth of supplies.

So far, the staff has scheduled weekly classes on using the 3-D printer, which users will be required to take before being able to use the device.

Ford is working with the youth librarians to offer technology classes for younger users, but he will wait a little to see the demand from adults on classes to offer, he said.

Meanwhile, staff members are working with the programs themselves to build expertise that can be helpful to the community, Wells said.

The library will still offer basic computer literacy services that the community has come to depend on and the upgrades for the maker space included new computers for the rest of the computer room.

The classes and the equipment are available for free to library users, although patrons should expect to pay a nominal fee for 3-D printing to offset the library’s cost of supplies, similar to the small fee for making photocopies.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.


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