Our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) services department offers technological and artistic resources to encourage creative thinking, innovation, exploration, creation, and problem solving. Check us out for access to 3D printing, digital design software, arts and crafts supplies, robotics, coding, photography, and more! We provide an open, welcoming space to gather, collaborate, and learn from library staff and from each other.
The goal of STEAM services is to empower a community of makers, encourage creation, and support people of all ages in their endeavors to grow as innovators.
Main Library features two STEAM spaces where you can explore and create: the MakerLab, geared toward all youth, and the Innovation Lab, geared toward older youth and adults. Each space offers technology and other resources to aid you in your innovative endeavors, along with weekly programs in subjects like crafts, coding, and design.
Here’s some of the technology we have for you to use:
Create physical 3D models from digital files with printers that melt and extrude plastic layer-by-layer.
Machines that can carve and engrave heavier materials such as plastic, wood, and PVC.
An easy-to-use machine that can cut, score, and/or engrave many different heavier materials such as wood, cardboard, and some plastics.
Do-it-yourself machines that cut a wide variety of lighter materials such as papers, vinyl, and fabric.
High-quality prints for all of your poster needs.
A machine for all of your stitching, fixing, and fabric creation needs. SINGER 4423, 15.5 x 6.25 x 12 inches
Why is the library offering these STEAM services?
The library has always been a collective resource for our community by offering different types of services and technologies. From the days of typewriters to the first laser printers, public copiers, and internet computers, libraries have been the place where many members of the community are introduced to new technology. Providing access to maker and STEAM/STEM technologies continues our long-standing commitment to bridging the digital divide.
How much will it cost to use these services?
Check the details for the equipment listed below for pricing.
Can you help me design a project?
We’re happy to show you the basics of the equipment and direct you to online resources, but we will not be able to design your project for you. The true idea of our space is to work together with like-minded community members to learn new skills.
What if my project doesn’t come out the way I wanted it?
We will work with you to determine the best resolution for your project. We can’t guarantee how your project will turn out, however. You are responsible for all costs associated with using the equipment or materials.
History of STEAM services at Durham County Library
We’ve been providing maker programming since 2014! It all started with the purchase of our first Makerbot Replicator, supported by monthly programs for community members to come learn and explore. Over the next few years, our STEAM programming grew in popularity and availability thanks to grant funding from Duke Energy and from the State Library of North Carolina through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). In our first LSTA funding year, we held over 200 STEAM-based programs for youth, with fun topics including LEGO robotics, coding with Scratch, and workshops on 3D printing, just to name a few.
The first dedicated MakerLab @ Main opened in June 2016, also thanks to our LSTA funding. When Main Library closed for renovation in January 2017, maker programming for all ages continued in a temporary space at Northgate Mall.
Now, with the transformed Main Library, what started out as one 3D printer in the computer lab has become a full-fledged department, with two large programming spaces and a new library team dedicated to providing world-class maker programming and resources!
Did you know?
- Our First Library in Space project engaged the community in a STEAM adventure by building a small capsule and attaching it to a weather balloon that carried it into near space. Teens at each of our locations competed to have their capsule design selected. The community followed along with the launch through real-time GPS tracking on our website. The library was recognized as a 2014 Top Innovator by the Urban Library Council for the project.
- In 2019, the library hosted a four-week, theme-based STEAM Off program geared towards low-income middle school students as part of the Urban Library Council’s Partners for Middle School STEM initiative. Participants developed their maker skills with access to programming and technology like robotics, electronic piano keyboards, and engine-powered rockets.
- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff 3D printed and laser cut over 280 face shields for Durham County first responders.
- While our spaces were closed due to COVID-19, the STEAM team made cool Take & Make STEAM activity packets to pick up and use at home. One included materials to make a robot toothbrush and then use your new bot to create abstract art. Another had a tangram puzzle set, with pieces made on our 3D printers and an accompanying packet with links to the designs.
Meet the STEAM team
STEAM Services Manager
Gracey is the STEAM Services Manager at Durham County Main Library. In addition to working with various equipment and creating programs for the STEAM department, she strives to create an open, welcoming space for those interested in the world of making. Some of Gracey’s favorite things include coffee, having a good laugh, and binge-watching movies/tv shows. Gracey graduated with distinction from the UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Information Science and an M.S. in Library Science.
Jess grew up in Durham, exploring and photographing downtown and in the surrounding woods and countryside. Prior to becoming a librarian, they ran a farm with their partner and maintained another business supporting small businesses and social justice nonprofits with website creation and coaching. As the STEAM Services Librarian, they strive to foster equitable, inclusive, and accessible spaces for both plugged and unplugged creativity, innovation, and fun. Jess also loves plants, baseball, astrology, zines, comics, and the Fast and the Furious Saga.
Alan graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. Before working at the library, Alan worked as a cancer researcher and assisted with community science outreach. Alan wants to continue to expose students to the wonders of science as he pursues a graduate education. Away from the library, Alan loves reading non-fiction books, getting his hands dirty as he works on his car, and eating spicy food! He loves spicy food so much that he has a hot sauce collection.
Caroline has loved libraries since she could read, and she loves helping incorporate science, health, and arts into accessible and creative programs. One of her favorite things about public libraries (besides all the books!) is how libraries are safe and welcoming spaces for all people. She loves reading most genres, especially children’s literature, young adult, fiction with hints of magic, novels in verse, humanities nonfiction, and graphic novels. She graduated with a B.S. in Kinesiology from UNCG and is currently in their graduate program for Library and Information Science. When not in the library, Caroline loves spending time with her husband, her kids (who love to read, too!), her extended family, reading, hiking, walking, running, music, taking care of animals, and visiting parks and our NC mountains.