Belk Library unveils brand new Makerspace


Aldo Sarabia

Attendees gather for the grand opening of the new Makerspace in the lower level of Belk Library, Sept. 9, 2022.

James Moser, Reporter

Belk Library’s all-new Makerspace, a design lab featuring a variety of tools, resources and equipment for projects of any size or scope, had its grand opening Friday. 

The Makerspace, located on the lower level of the library, is home to 3D printers, vinyl and laser cutters, sewing machines, die cuts, a heat press and more — all available to students and faculty.

Students were invited to attend an opening event at the Makerspace where they could interact with a number of stations and activities. These ranged from laser-cut checkers and giant Jenga to custom mug and tote bag printing. The open-door event was hosted by library officials and lasted from noon-5 p.m. 

The new 3D printers of the Makerspace. The idea for the new space started as soon as 2014. (Aldo Sarabia)

Participant Cape Dickerson, a senior geology major and craftsman, spoke to the excitement surrounding the new facility and the potential it holds for future student projects.

“This is a wonderful addition,” Dickerson said. “We can definitely make some great use out of it.”

Dickerson expressed interest in using the Makerspace to create identifying plaques for several edible plants that grow on campus. 

 His plan, alongside many more, may come to pass as App State joins other universities such as NC State in offering specialized equipment for design and production.

First-year graphic design major Kenzie Bruder was similarly excited about the possibilities. 

“It gives people a space to be creative and open their mind up to new things,” Bruder said. “It’ll attract more people, different crowds, and I think it will maybe open up new relationships and friends, too.” 

Those who missed out on the grand opening will still have a chance to participate in various Makerspace activities throughout the coming week, according to a library email. Standard library hours will apply.

A sewing machine accessible to students and faculty in the new Makerspace in the Belk Library. (Aldo Sarabia)

Hannah Pope, the university’s emerging technologies librarian, said work began on the new facility as far back as 2014. 

“This actual iteration of the Makerspace we were able to start sussing out about two years ago,” Pope said. 

Pope said donor contributions, namely that of the Freiman family, were integral in funding the facility’s construction this past summer. The Freimans are perennial supporters of learning and the arts at App State, donating nearly one million dollars to University Libraries in honor of Larry Freiman’s passing last year.

The Makerspace is a continuation of the Idea Factory and Inspire Maker Lab, two creative design programs hosted by the university in previous years. Pope said the Makerspace is upholding those programs’ principles of discovery and fabrication while providing users with more diverse and advanced equipment to make their ideas come to life. 

Pope added there are currently plans to procure additional equipment further down the line, including more 3D printers.

Anyone interested in making use of the facility’s machinery will need to follow proper safety procedures. To better acquaint themselves with individual machines, students and faculty can log on to AsULearn and complete a short module prepared by Pope ahead of time. Pope intends to host workshops where individuals can learn how to operate the 3D printers and other advanced tools. There will also be student workers on standby, ready to help as needed. 

Pope emphasized the facility is a “welcoming” environment open to all, regardless of major, experience or skill level. 

“Anyone can use this space. It’s for everyone. Even if someone thinks ‘I’ve never 3D printed before; there’s no way I can do that,’ that’s not true,” Pope said. “I want it to be a very welcome, inclusive space that feels good for everyone to come in and use. And in the spirit of the Makerspace community, hopefully it’s also a space for people to be able to share ideas and grow — academically and creatively.”