Make! Create! Innovate! PUL opens makerspace

Makerspace entrance

Princeton University Library (PUL) is proud to announce the opening of its first makerspace on February 1, 2021, to coincide with the start of the spring term.  

Makerspaces, which have become increasingly popular in academic libraries since the mid-2000s, provide spaces within libraries for exploration of new equipment and techniques, as well as creative outlets during study breaks.

The PUL Makerspace is an informal learning space, open to Princeton faculty, students, and staff from all disciplines. Unaffiliated with a specific department or center, it aims to lower barriers to entry for novice users to help students learn the basics and gain confidence to take formal courses or to delve into advanced makerspaces and studios elsewhere on campus. 

Princeton has several makerspaces such as the CST StudioLab, the spaces managed by the Keller Center, and several makerspaces within research labs. This new Library Makerspace complements existing capabilities.

“The space creates opportunities to make, create, and innovate through a wide array of materials and equipment that are easy to work with,” says Willow Dressel, engineering librarian, who is the main contact for the new space. 

Near the entrance is a “Build and Explore” area with creative assets such as modeling clay, stackable blocks, and tactile aids. Farther in is the “Print and Create” area with 3D printers, a 3D scanner, a vinyl and paper cutter, and a large format poster printer, as well as tool sets, goggles, gloves, and collaborative worktables. In the “Electronics” Area, patrons can explore concepts of the Internet of Things through Makey Makeys. The space includes a reservable video recording room, a virtual reality exploration room, and a collaborative display space, all of which require patrons to bring their own equipment. Nearby, the Engineering Tool Library lends robotics kits and other equipment.

Long shot counters Library makerspace

The 2,000 square foot PUL Makerspace is part of a 2020 renovation that includes the A level of Lewis Library and the A and B levels of Fine Hall. The renovation brings together and integrates the work of the Lewis Science Library and the Engineering Library, which has moved from the Friend Center. The co-location and integration of services made possible through the renovation greatly improves Library services for STEM disciplines.

 “Our exploration of the renovation plans revealed the potential for this new makerspace, an idea greeted with enthusiasm from librarians as well as campus partners. The new space helps our library connect more deeply with both the Council of Science and Technology and the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning’s Digital Learning Lab which are located in the same building complex, as well as with the Keller Center,” said Anu Vedantham *94, assistant university librarian for research services. “We are excited about the potential of working across organizations to support classes as well as independent research involving ‘making’ activities.”

PUL makerspace cutters

Given the COVID-19 pandemic and best health practices, the Makerspace will operate under limited patron capacity. Additionally, high-touch surfaces will be regularly cleaned, and the use of equipment like the 3D printers will be managed by Library staff.

Written by: Office of Library Communications and Library Research Services

Photos: Brandon Johnson, Shelley Szwast, Princeton University Library

Media contact: Barbara Valenza, Director, Library Communications

Published January 26, 2021