Chicago Public Library Welcomes City’s First “Fab Lab”
Next month, the Chicago Public Library will open the city’s first free “maker space” on the third floor of Harold Washington Library in the Loop. The pop-up fabrication lab will offer the public access to 3D printers, laser cutters, a milling machine and a vinyl cutter as well as a variety of supporting design software.
The facility is the first to come out of the CPL Innovation Lab, an effort to introduce new technologies to city residents. And the library is the first in a large city to experiment with a “maker space,” the city says. Though it will be similar to maker spaces at the Museum of Science and Industry and Pumping Station: One, this fab lab will be free to all.
The space opens July 8 and will close at year-end. After its six-month run, the library says it will consider hosting labs in neighborhood branches.
The space fits into a growing movement of hands-on collaborative learning environments that allow people to come together and exchange ideas in the pursuit of innovation, and was funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer Chicagoans the opportunity to learn firsthand new technologies and skills used in today’s manufacturing at the library,” Library Commissioner Brian Bannon said in a statement. “The maker lab is the first of several ideas we plan to test over the next few years in the Innovation Lab, as we focus on expanding access to 21st century ideas and information to our communities.”