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Fayetteville Free Library to build first public 3-D imaging lab in U.S.

Fayetteville Free Library Transliteracy Development Director Lauren Britton Smedley, left, and Executive Director Sue Considine  are  pictured in the  library’s east wing, the future home of the FFL Fab Lab and Business Center. They are standing with a “Maker-bot,” a device that prints 3-D objects donated to the library by Manlius business owner William Mahoney.

Fayetteville Free Library Transliteracy Development Director Lauren Britton Smedley, left, and Executive Director Sue Considine are pictured in the library’s east wing, the future home of the FFL Fab Lab and Business Center. They are standing with a “Maker-bot,” a device that prints 3-D objects donated to the library by Manlius business owner William Mahoney. Courtesy FFL

— Efforts are underway at the Fayetteville Free Library to add a fab lab to its inventory of community assets. The “fab” is fab as in fabrication, but those involved also hope the addition is fabulous.

A fab lab is a group of machines designed to work together or individually using computer programming to produce three dimensional objects.

“There has been much discussion lately about ‘transforming’ government, libraries, businesses, etc… but I believe we’ve missed the mark,” said the library’s executive director Susan Considine. “I believe it is our responsibility to provide the pathways and vehicles; the ‘access’ to transformational experiences. When we do that, communities and individuals transform themselves by coming together, thinking, developing, creating and making.”

The ball for the new lab got rolling when Lauren Britton Smedley was hired by the library. She had been taking a graduate course at Syracuse University called “Innovation in Public Libraries,” and she decided to do a paper on the idea of creating a fab lab within a library. Considine saw the paper.

Smedley is now the Fayetteville Free Library’s Transliteracy Development Director.

The plan for the fab lab is in its early stages but has already made progress. The library recently won an award of $10,000 for the project from the Contact Summit in New York City. The library also received a donation in the form of one “Maker-Bot Thing-O-Matic” machine from Express Computer Services in Manlius.

“It’s a printing device that allows for printing 3-D objects,” said William Mahoney, Express Computer Service’s co-owner. ““It’s a great learning tool, especially for kids that really have the type of personality where they like to take things apart, see how things work. This is really a new type of technology.

If the library reaches its goal of creating a free public-accessible fab lab, it would be the first in the United States to do so. Considine said it is working hard to make that dream a reality, particularly in the area of funding. Prices for similar spaces can be over a million dollars, according to a library press release.

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