Libraries are not just for books any more.

Cherokee Regional Library System administrators are urging adults and children to explore technology through the maker spaces at all four branches: Dade County, Chickamauga, Rossville and LaFayette-Walker County.

Rather than assisting students with homework, the technology “gives kids an opportunity to explore with different items to pique their interests for a job or career in the future,” said Megan McQueen, youth education coordinator for the LaFayette-Walker County Library.

The maker spaces and STEM educational programming stimulate learning and make age-appropriate technology available to patrons, she said.

The libraries established the maker spaces three years ago, and the system is seeking funds to purchase additional books focused on STEM education, she said.

Many people do not know library patrons can check out the majority of the items for one week; items that are connected to a computer or require a program to use may not be checked out, she said.

McQueen said she believes there is something in the maker space that would interest everyone.

For example, young children learn sorting skills with buttons and develop coordination with lacing cards while Osmo kits and Code-a-Pillar teach elementary age children about coding and problem-solving, she said.

Older children may be interested in the 3-D printer, the poster printer and the 3Doodler, which works like a hot glue gun to draw in three dimensions.

Adults can convert their home movies on VHS to DVD, use scanners to digitize old family photos and cut vinyl and other materials for scrapbooking and other projects with the Cricut die-cutting machine, she said.

There are also scrapbooking and crafting materials available, she added.

From robot kits to a green screen with photo software, the maker space technology dovetails with educational programming at the library.

“We will begin our STEM club on Nov. 7 at 4 p.m. for second through fifth grade,” McQueen said, adding that the library is still accepting registrations for the class.

Funding for the future

Library System Director Lecia Eubanks said state funding enabled the system to purchase about $10,000 in technology to furnish the maker spaces system-wide.

“We have never had a line item in the budget for technology,” she said, explaining that the library would not have the technology it does without state funds earmarked for that purpose.

“This year we received a total of $26,982, and $10,259 of that amount must be spent on census-related equipment,” she said.

“We will purchase and designate computers inside our libraries for census taking,” she said, “and we also hope to take a mobile lab across both counties setting up satellite locations for census taking.”

Funding requirements stipulate that the remaining funding may be used to purchase new technology and to replace old technology; however, it may not be used to purchase many of the maker space items because their technology can become obsolete so quickly.

The system’s technology plan is due into the state Nov. 15, and the items must be purchased by Jan. 31, Eubanks said.

Catherine Edgemon is assistant editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and the Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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