Calcasieu library receives grant to create "Innovation Studio"

Source: Calcasieu Parish Central Library
Source: Calcasieu Parish Central Library

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - It looks like a normal computer lab now, but soon it's going to turn into something completely different.

The Calcasieu Parish Central Library just received a $24,000 grant to build an innovation studio -- a maker's space that will provide the public with a chance to learn about emerging technologies and a chance to 'make' new things.

"It's a part of a 'maker movement'", said Clare Coleman, the Central library branch manager. "That's what people are calling it. You provide the space and equipment, it's usually pretty advanced equipment, and the difference is that a maker's space is designed to bring people together and not just learn as individuals."

Coleman says some of that advanced equipment is already in. The soon-to-be Innovation Studio already has a 70" touch screen monitor that will be used for learning workshops as well as a two 27'' touch screen computers. But there is one piece of equipment that's already causing a stir.

"Well the biggest feature that everybody's excited about is the 3D printer," said Coleman. "We've been having fun learning how to use it."

A 3D printer that can print anything from a comb to a ring, all made out of plastic. System technician at the Calcasieu Parish Central Library Lee Grogan said they also have a 3D scanner, which allows you to place any object and print a small replica of the object in minutes.

The library system has also allowed the public to suggest and vote for programs they think should be available through the Calcasieu Parish Public Library Innovation Studio App.

"It's similar to the "like" feature of Facebook," said Coleman. "You can 'like' a program or creative project that someone else suggests so we can offer the things people really want."

Coleman says she's excited about the library's future.

"I would love to say a year from now, "Wow. I can't believe that was possible," said Coleman.

The library also worked with the Southwest Louisiana Arts and Humanities Council on locating an artist to design and decorate the new studio. Lake Charles native Erik Jessen, Graphic Arts Instructor at Sowela Technical College, was chosen to transform the room.

The grant application was written by Coleman and Fiona Griswold, a former reference librarian at the Central library.

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