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Library's New Makerspace Offers Chance to Explore

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX. The Dabble Box (bottom photo) is a new makerspace at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire. During a recent open house, 10-year-old Ryan Grzyb (top) played a video game with do-it-yourself Play-Doh controllers. The same system can be used to play a virtual piano with bananas (middle).
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX. The Dabble Box is a new makerspace at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire. During a recent open house, 10-year-old Ryan Grzyb (top) played a video game with do-it-yourself Play-Doh controllers. The same system can be used to play a virtual piano with bananas (below).

If you’re looking to pick up a new skill, discover a new talent, or dust off a rusty one, then the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library’s new makerspace, the Dabble Box, has just the tools to help you find your spark and craft up your dreams.

While there are several places in the Chippewa Valley with a do-it-yourself multipurpose programming space, most are found in schools or geared toward manufacturing and come with a cost. With the Dabble Box, folks of all ages get free hands-on learning opportunities where they can explore a number of areas.

Thanks to many generous donors, the Dabble Box offers a 3D printer, vinyl cutter, and LEGO Mindstorms robots along with a variety of smaller robots and coding equipment. There are also more common household items such as sewing machines, yarn, and basic crafting supplies. In the near future, you might even be able to check out kits on knitting, coding, learning music, and more. The Dabble Box is located behind the information and reference area on the library's main floor in a room that previously housed a dozen public Internet computers, which have been relocated.

So how did the name “Dabble Box” come about? According to Isa Small, the library’s programming and communications services manager, it wasn’t an easy task. “Our team discussed dozens of names while trying to define the space as it is now while still leaving room for how it might grow,” Small said. “Eventually, we settled on ‘Dabble’ because we already had some name recognition with DIY Dabble, our monthly craft program for adults and because it captures the essence of what we’re striving to achieve: a space where customers can play, make, and share. We want learning to be a fun experience.”

This new makerspace will enhance your library-going experience on several levels. Many folks visit the library to check out books, movies, or games to take home and enjoy. They may also listen to lectures, enjoy artwork, or take part in book clubs. With the new makerspace, your library-going experience can also include hands-on understanding with opportunities to ask questions and socialize with others dabbling alongside with you.

“We want to foster a culture of creativity and innovation,” Small said. “What we really specialize in is connecting people with ideas whether they are read in a book, or inspired by a craft program, or shared by another customer working on a project in the Dabble Box.”

There are definitely lots of cool things in store for the Dabble Box. According to Small, the sky’s the limit! In February, there will be more than 40 hours of open lab time along with a number of programs with specific projects. As the makerspace continues to grow, Small and her team hope to get more community members and organizations involved in sharing their knowledge and expertise in order to diversify the programming opportunities.

The next time you visit the library, be sure to check out the new makerspace where you can take dabbling to a whole new level by freeing your imagination, meeting new people, and uncovering the creative genius inside you.

For more information about the Dabble Box, and to see a schedule of open lab hours, visit www.ecpubliclibrary.info/dabble-box-makerspace/. A full calendar of open labs and project-specific programs can be found in the library's newsletter.


This was made by

Andrea Paulseth  photographer

Andrea Paulseth has been the part-time staff photographer with Volume One since 2008, trying her best to draw in the reader with off camera lighting skill and editorial style photography.

Pan Thao  author

Pan Thao is an aunt of seven who enjoys writing, storytelling, and playing hide-and-seek.