Westport Library Fosters Creativity With New Space

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Staples High School student Henry Weller works with designer and builder Joseph Schott in the new Maker Space at the Westport Library.
Staples High School student Henry Weller works with designer and builder Joseph Schott in the new Maker Space at the Westport Library. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari

WESTPORT, Conn. – Staples High School student Henry Weller has a busy summer ahead of him, but that won't keep him from helping to build two 15-foot wooden airplanes at the Westport Library’s new Maker Space, an area where people of all ages can come together to create and learn.

“I’m really excited about this space because I love to build things,” said Henry, an incoming senior. “I hope to be here every day.”

Unveiled Monday, the Maker Space is the latest addition to the full spectrum of services the library offers for free. It’s the first such space in a Connecticut library, said Maxine Bleiweis, library director.

Complete with a 3-D printer, the Maker Space will host a variety of projects. The airplane project is led by Southport resident Joseph Schott, a designer and builder, and this summer’s first maker-in-residence.

“My feeling is that we all have this creativity inside us, and it simply helps to have a place, the equipment and community support to get people out to put it to use,” said Schott. “Without those three things, it’s harder to do that. I think the library realized that if they provide this space, people will use it.”

For Henry, who has taken shop classes and participated in Builders Beyond Borders for three years, the Maker Space provides him with an opportunity to further his skills while working side-by-side with and learning from Schott.

Although Henry has experience making such items as chairs or chessboards, he said the scale of the airplane project is unlike anything he has ever done.

“I like having the opportunity to do more than I have in the past,” Henry said. “It’s good to know how to do manual labor.”

The airplane project is slated to be completed by Aug. 25, Schott said. Once finished, the planes will be suspended from the library's ceiling.

The Maker Space is open to people of all ages and skill levels. People can just watch or participate in a project. All participants must sign a liability waiver, available at the Reference Desk. A schedule of activity is posted outside the Maker Space.

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