If you have driven by the Erlanger Branch Library recently, you may have wondered what’s going on. Last fall, construction started on three projects at the branch: a makerspace, a large auditorium/meeting room and a separate building to house the administration offices.
On Tuesday, May 15, Duke Energy gave a big boost to this anxiously awaited project. Duke Energy presented the Kenton County Public Library Board of Trustees with a $10,000 grant that will go towards materials and equipment for the new makerspace. Republic Bank was the first sponsor of the makerspace with a donation of $5,000. Schultz Marketing and Communications and The Lawrence Firm, PSC, have also contributed.
Many ask “what is a makerspace?” By definition, it is a place in which people with shared interests, especially in computing or technology, can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge. The Library provides the space, equipment and materials, and visitors are the makers.
The Library’s Executive Director Dave Schroeder explains why this space is so important. “As we look toward the future, we realize there is great need for a stronger focus to provide STEM and STEAM related activities. STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. However we at the Library have realized that while STEM and STEAM are wonderful movements, there is one critical component being left out – reading.”
Schroeder goes on to explain, “Without having a strong comprehension of reading and understanding, how can one be expected to follow directions to build a robot, create fireworks in a jar, or code? Reading is the basis in which both STEM and STEAM flourish.”
The Library already conducts many programs with a STEM/STEAM focus. Librarians enhanced the story of The Three Little Pigs with engineering practice, having children make houses out of drinking straws, Popsicle sticks and Lego blocks to see which house is strongest. Children have also read about boats and then experimented with water and a variety of objects to see what sinks and what floats. Using the scientific method, they made a hypothesis first before dropping the object in the water. Children at a Halloween program made a skeleton out of Q-Tips which incorporates art and science. With the addition of the makerspace/STREAM Center of Learning, there will be more programs such as these offered.
When not in use for Library programs, the makerspace will be open to the public. Children’s staff plans to partner with area schools to work with their students to continue to build the STEM/STEAM curriculum.
Concurrently, near the makerspace, a large auditorium/meeting room is being constructed. Over the past several years, there has been a demand for more public meeting space. Angela Payer, Erlanger Branch Manager, states, “We receive five to 10 calls a week from those in the community looking for spaces to have a meeting. As one of the only free, easily accessible places to offer space, the meeting rooms are in constant use and in high-demand. Add this to the fact that we offer over 2,500 free programs for children, teens and adults annually, meeting and program space is very limited.”
Recently released statistics from the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives showed that the Kenton County Public Library is the leading library in the state which provides free programs for children and teens. They are second when it comes to free programs for adults. Overall the Kenton County Public Library comes in second in the state in offering free programs and second in state based on program attendance. Additional statistics show that Kenton County Public Library cardholders use the e-books and online items more than any other library in the state. Kenton County is also the second highest provider of books from any other library.
Construction at the Erlanger Branch will be completed by December 2017. The Erlanger Branch Library is located at 401 Kenton Lands Road in Erlanger, Kentucky. In fiscal year 2015-2016, the Erlanger Branch Library welcomed 358,467 visitors who checked out nearly one million items. Robert Ehmet Hayes & Associates is the architect of record for this project (this firm also did the design of the current Erlanger Branch Library). For updates, photos or to donate to the project, please visit the Library’s website at www.kentonlibrary.org/expansion