Library preparing ‘maker lab’ so public can access high-tech tools

3D printers, embroidery machine, CNC equipment, sign printer among items to be available at Hobart Center space in Troy/

Plans for the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Maker Lab and administrative offices in recently leased space in the Hobart Center for County Government are nearing finalization, with hopes for the lab’s opening later this year.

The Maker Lab is being modeled after a maker space called Spark Place at the Xenia Community Library. It will include equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutter, learning lab and a business center, said Rachelle Via, library executive director. The Xenia space had 20,000 visitors last year, she said.

“The Innovation Space will allow community members to design, prototype and manufacture items using tools that would otherwise be inaccessible or unaffordable,” Via said. “For example, teachers, small business owners and nonprofits may not have a lot of extra money or resources, so equipment such as vinyl printers makes creating signs, banners, posters, stickers and decals easy and very affordable.”

Members of the community will be able to use the space if they have a library card. They will pay the cost of any materials used in their projects.

A learning lab also is planned with about 15 computers offering specialized software and printers, along with a business center with copier, scanner, fax and other business tools. The space also includes meeting rooms and a sound room for podcasts and related activities.

The Miami County commissioners voted Feb. 15 to lease the space to the library for a technology center and innovation space for public use. The agreement for 8,533 square feet on the second floor of the Hobart Center at 510 W. Water St. is for 10 years. The library is located just east of the Hobart Center, once home to the Hobart Brothers Co. corporate offices. The existing library will continue in use and will receive some renovations.

Under the lease, the library will pay $66,131, or $7.75 per square foot, for the first year. This includes utilities except telephone service, along with janitorial services.

County Commission President Ted Mercer called the project “a win-win for Miami County residents.” The county’s Department of Development and the library are looking for ways they can make innovation and technology features useful for small business and the entrepreneurial community.

To prepare the available space, some walls will be removed and doors relocated among other work, Via said. The library is working with LWC of Dayton on project design and planning. The library board was exploring construction of a new library on the grounds of the current library but changed direction when it became apparent fundraising would be difficult. The activities planned at the Hobart Center had been envisioned for the top floor of a new library.

As the library board began studying facilities and needs in 2018, community members pointed to technology, meeting rooms and natural light as among priorities, Via said.

The initial lab equipment, minus computers, will be paid for using $150,000 from the Ada Richardson Pressman fund established with a bequest from her estate following her death in 2003. She was a Troy High School graduate and mechanical engineer who worked for Bechtel Corp. and was principal engineer for a nuclear power plant near Los Angeles.

Other costs will be paid using funds the library has saved for projects.

The new space is expected to require addition of two full-time and two-part time employees who would work with those using the equipment, Via said.

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The library’s Maker Lab space will house:

3D printers and a 3D scanner

Laser cutter

Vinyl printer

CNC milling and routing machines

Soldering stations

Sublimation print station and press

Embroidery machine

Electric cutter

UV printer

Photography studio/video recording space

Audio recording and editing

Hand tools

Safety gear


Who could be using this space?

- The entrepreneur who wants to start a small business but doesn’t have money for an embroidery machine, laser, etc.;

- The coffee shop that wants to test market to see if custom coffee mugs would sell before making a large order at a local printer;

- The scout troop that needs a STEM badge;

- Anyone wanting to make someone a gift;

- Nonprofits or anyone in need of promotional banners or stickers.

Source: Troy-Miami County Public Library

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