Lau Devotes Space to Creativity

The Gelardin New Media Center will open a new space on the first floor of Lauinger Library to foster creativity within the Georgetown community by March 1.

The new area, called a MakerSpace and funded by a $15,000 donation from the Caroon Fund, will feature several types of creative tools, ranging from 3D printers to sewing machines to power drills.

Gelardin department head Beth Marhanka said that the idea for a Makerspace at Georgetown originated from the Maker movement, which encourages invention through hands-on experience and has become increasingly popular over the past 10 years.

“The Maker movement is sort of the next phase that began with the Digital Maker movement,” Marhanka said. “This is a whole movement from people who are craving to just make things … it’s reallyabout getting people to be more innovative and creative.”

Makerspaces have appeared in dozens of libraries across the country, including at Xavier University, the University of Maryland and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Inspired by these other universities, Marhanka took the opportunity to begin the project when the space, which used to hold microfilms, was cleared out. Marhanka also visited a large do-it-yourself design lab in Arlington, Virg., called TechShop, to generate  ideas for Georgetown’s Makerspace.

“When I went to the TechShop, I thought, we can do a lot of this. Then I thought, what if we did? What would happen?” Marhanka said. “If you give smart people cool tools, then you just see what happens.”

Marhanka stressed that the primary purpose of the Makerspace is to  foster creativity among the entire community, whether that be Georgetown residents, students or faculty. She hopes that students who don’t usually have the opportunity to work with technology or arts will take advantage of this new resource on campus.
“What we want to do is create interdisciplinary, shared space that you don’t have to be part of the program to have access to … that’s why this is an ideal place for a Makerspace, because we serve the entire community,” she said.

Other creative spaces on campus include the Physics Makerspace, which is located on the sixth floor of Reiss.  A few interested students, assisted by Professor Cothran, Director of Instructional Laboratories, converted an old laboratory into a place where anyone can go and learn how to use different types of technology.

Patrick Soltis (COL ’18) led the project to create this Makerspace and hopes that more people will embrace the Maker movement as he does.
“I hope that people understand that it’s not so technical, that the technology is at a stage where it’s ready [for public use],” Soltis said.

Students and faculty are already using the new Gelardin resources and other similar Makerspace-type facilities on campus. Kevin Durham (MSB ’19) often uses the video cameras at Gelardin for his internship at Common $ense, a non-profit organization that advocates for safe technology and media. Durham indicated that he greatly appreciates the center’s services which include both rental of and training for the use of multimedia equipment.

“They not only provide you with the equipment, but also with the training on how to use it correctly,” Durham said.

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