Working in the lab at Rifle’s library |

Working in the lab at Rifle’s library

Garfield County Public Library District public relations director Emily Hisel, left, explains how a digital camera works to fellow staff members in the Rifle Branch Library’s new Make And Design lab, or MADLab. Shown with Hisel are, from left: Zee Russell, assistant Rifle Branch manager; Jordan Fields, digital services librarian; Shirley Peterson, library assistant; Janine Rose (standing), Rifle Branch manager; and Rebecca Taylor (kneeling), library assistant.
Mike McKibbin/Citizen Telegram |

It’s called the Make And Design lab, or MADlab.

Whether it leads to some fantastic inventions, or even a creative artistic piece, remains to be seen, but Garfield County Public Library District Executive Director Amelia Shelley certainly hopes the new addition to the Rifle Branch Library is that and more.

With a $15,000 grant from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District and smaller ones from the Friends of the Rifle Branch Library and Rifle Community Foundation, the library has transformed the story time room (now held upstairs) into a dedicated “makerspace” that opened to the public on Sunday, April 13.

“It’s designed to help people open their minds to possibilities they might not have had before,” Shelley said. “It will allow people to maybe dream and invent, if they embrace the idea and buy into it.”

A makerspace is a learning environment where community members can move beyond learning how to do something into actually doing it. The MADlab includes two iMac computers, a Nikon D600 full frame digital camera, green screen, lighting kit, a professional Blue Yeti microphone and a 3D printer.

Shelley said the equipment – purchased as part of the total $25,000 project – was chosen based on its popularity in such tasks as making videos and high-end photography.

There are four areas of emphasis in the MADlab: media, do-it-yourself, computer coding and business. Media makers can use materials and software to create such things as high-definition photographs, highlight videos or music. Do-it-yourselfers can use the space for projects such as fixing a bike, collaborating on a quilt or building a computer. Coding makers will have the opportunity to learn basic coding principles and potentially translate that into web design, app creation or robot programming. Business makers can use the MADlab to research, get a job, create a business plan or design a product catalog.

“I hope it gives people the big picture of what they can do,” Shelley said.

Individuals 18 and up and businesses may soon be able to use the space during certain hours for tasks such as designing lunch menus, recording music, knitting and learning Photoshop, Shelley said. Kids and teens will also be able to explore and interact in MADlab events. In the immediate future, though, Shelley said the plan is to use the MADlab for specialized programs, focused mostly on the younger set.

“I hope, as we open and get things started, others will step forward to help and let us know how we can use it,” she added.

Shelley said small fees may be charged for some features, such as the 3D printer. A reel of filament costs around $40, she noted.

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