What Makes a Maker?

Meet the minds inside Lafayette Public Library’s Makerspaces! Lafayette Public Library has Makerspaces and Tech Labs at five locations: Main Library in downtown Lafayette, South Regional Library on Johnston Street in Lafayette, North Regional Library in Carencro,  East Regional Library in Youngsville, and West Regional Library in Scott. The Main Library Makerspace is staffed by five awesome and talented library employees who help introduce visitors to the idea of “making.” Below, librarians Sterling and Michelle take a break from planning Maker Faire Lafayette 2021 to answer some questions.


Tell us a little bit about the Makerspace and how things got started.

Sterling: The Makerspace started in 2015 at the Main Library and has now grown to also be available during certain times of the week all over Lafayette Parish at the four Regional Libraries.

Michelle: The Main Library’s Makerspace has a 3D printer, a laser cutter, six sewing machines, an embroidery machine, a thermoformer, and arts and crafts supplies. You don’t have to be a techie to be a Maker!


What does the term “Maker” mean to you?

M: Makers come in all shapes and sizes! It doesn’t matter your age, either. Anyone can be a Maker and apply Maker Skills to everyday projects.


Who or what inspires you?

M: When someone takes something they made for one person and applies it to many people. Like the old saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

S: Definitely a huge fan of the design aesthetics of artists like Simon Stalenhag and Jakub Rozalski and how they integrate steampunk and sci-fi technology so naturally into everyday slice-of-life scenes.


Does the Makerspace staff consider making their hobby away from work? How does it tie into the day job?

S: Most of us come from some form of Maker background; always looking at new ways to re-evaluate or reinvent the things we come across in day-to-day life. We’re a Makerspace in a library so our goal is Maker Education. We give you the chance to try new things in a monitored environment so that when you can buy your own 3D printer or hobby laser cutter, you already have some background on the device.


Why is making important?

M: Because it can change so many things! If someone wasn’t looking for a more efficient way to transmit data from one government entity to another, the internet wouldn’t exist! Making can fix a problem or a shortfall for something that exists, or it can show what changes need to happen before something can be improved.

S: With the growing availability of technology such as 3D printers to the general public, people now have the unprecedented ability to actualize and bring to life an idea that’s been kicking around in their brain and share it with others.


What have you made that you are most proud of?

M: Personally, I am proud of the sewing projects I’ve created this year. I started 2019 hardly able to sew and today I can put together simple items. The thing about making is that progress is progress, even if it’s very small increments.

S: I have very much enjoyed designing and printing custom game pieces for a board game concept I’ve been working on in my free time. In addition to learning the ins and outs of the design software, it’s also taught me to consider concepts of scale and the relative fragility of a badly posed game piece.


What would you make if you had unlimited resources?

M: I think the dog collar from Up would be a great start. I always wanted to know what my dogs are saying when they bark outside.

S: Probably a Rise of Legends suit of armor.


What up-and-coming maker trends excite you the most?

M: I like that people are making things to help people with disabilities and other, unseen conditions like PTSD. I saw in the news that a guy made a smartphone app for his father, who is a veteran that suffers from night terrors because of PTSD. While that guy just had his dad in mind, this app could be used for any number of sleep disorders and on top of that it helps other veterans who may be going through the same situation as his dad.


What advice can you give someone who wants to get involved in the Maker movement?

M: Volunteer your time, get experience however you can doing the thing you’d like to do. Making comes in many different forms so you don’t need a Tony Stark-level lab to realize a great idea (nice as it would be!). Take advantage of free programs, like those normally offered at the library, as a chance to learn new skills that you can use for your future Maker Project.


Tell us something surprising about yourself.

S: The library workers who staff and run the Makerspace hail from a wide range of backgrounds, and that makes us all the more creative. Whether we’re bouncing ideas for out of the box concepts on how to execute a particular design element or simply taking delighted inspiration from someone else’s hobbies we might never have considered otherwise, having such a diverse array of personalities has helped our various projects tremendously.