Winter Park library takes on technology

The Winter Park Public Library hopes to engage a younger generation with technology and possibly a new location.

The Winter Park Public Library hopes to engage a younger generation with technology and possibly a new location.

Tim Freed

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The tech-savvy “maker” generation of the future may have a place to become the next music maven, video producer or industrial designer, all within the worn, brick walls of the Winter Park Public Library.

Library officials have been seeking federal grant money to pay for a new Makerspace, a collection of cutting edge technology covering a range of creative arts. Residents would have access to sound recording equipment, cameras accompanied by video editing software and a 3D printer, a device that takes a computer image and turns it into a plastic object you can hold in your hand.

It’s all an effort to draw a younger generation while allowing everyone to learn new skills, library Executive Director Shawn Shaffer said.

“We’ll still be the traditional warehouse of information,” Shaffer said. “We want to move into an era where we start to help you create information.”

The Makerspace would also include a heated printing machine that puts graphics on T-shirts.

Shaffer said the learning lab would be near the teen section on the library’s second floor.

Community Relations Coordinator Mary Gail Coffee said the library could soon attempt to expand its collection of downloadable media as well, adding music and movies to their array of eBooks and audiobooks.

But the library’s pursuit of keeping themselves and their patrons up to date leaves further questions about their existing brick building dating from 1979.

The library’s current building leaves much to be desired, Shaffer said. Several curved and angled walls built back in the ’70s waste valuable space as the library continues to add to its collection of information.

A parking disparity exists as well, with the current 68 spots falling well short of the 80 to 100 cars that try to park outside.

The future of the three-story structure beside the Alfond Inn could become clearer in the coming months. Library officials are deliberating whether to remodel the current building or break ground somewhere else, hiring a consultant to compare the costs of both.

They should hear back within two weeks, Coffee said.

Mayor Ken Bradley said he was intrigued by the idea of a new library.

“I’m very open to looking at what a new library looks like, how it’s funded, etc.,” Bradley said.

“I also have questions, as I’m sure every resident does, about what does a library look like in 2014. The exciting thing is that they’re still very viable.”

Whether the library gets a facelift or rebuilt, Shaffer said the new library would stick to the current goal of meeting the needs of today’s residents in the 21st Century.

She assured that the library would still house its current inventory of books – the push toward technology would simply be an evolution, she said.

“We’ve been around for 100 years and I’m sure it will be around for 100 more,” Shaffer said.

City Commissioners agreed on Monday to meet with the public library for a work session set for June 9 to discuss new facilities.