Nebraska has received a half million dollar grant to create Library Innovation Studios for 30 rural communities.
Governor Pete Ricketts says the $530,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services will create makerspaces in the rural libraries.
“These makerspaces will provide a learning environment for adults and young Nebraskans to access technology and stimulate creativity, innovation and exchange ideas,” Ricketts tells reporters during a conference call. “This experience will facilitate entrepreneurship and skill development as well as help connect Nebraskans to career pathways in their home communities.”
The makerspaces will provide access to high-tech tools and technology to aid in self-directed education, either to prepare for a career or to help launch a business.
Eighteen communities have been chosen so far. The remaining communities will be chosen through a bid process.
Nebraska Innovation Studio founder Shane Farritor with the University of Nebraska – Lincoln says this will feed Nebraska’s special talent in tinkering and building.
“When you’re four-years-old you’re given Vise Grips. By the time your 14, you’re backing up the gravity wagon. We have a lot of skills in making and we need to exploit this,” Farritor says. “I think Nebraskans can be world leaders in hardware-based start-up companies. We shouldn’t try to lead the world in things that other people are good at. We should lead the world in what we’re good at.”
Mary Jo Ryan with the Nebraska Library Commission says the commission will not dictate how the local library sets up makerspaces.
“So, I guess our hope is that each community that we work with will have the ability to determine what’s the best thing for their community and how can the library be helpful in creating a learning environment that’s good for adults, that’s good for young people, that’s good for business, and that’s good for young families and bringing them back to their communities,” Ryan says.
The project is a partnership with the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Nebraska Innovation Studio, Nebraska Extension, Regional Library Systems, and local public libraries.
The makerspace is a creative and collaborative hub of the UNL Nebraska Innovation Campus with its primary focus on creativity, interdisciplinary collaboration, entrepreneurship, and education.
The initial local library partners that will host one of the four rotating makerspaces are:
· Ainsworth Public Library
· Ashland Public Library
· Bridgeport Public Library
· Broken Bow Public Library
· Central City Public Library
· Crete Public Library
· Geneva Public Library
· Loup City Public Library
· Nebraska City, Morton-James Public Library
· Neligh Public Library
· Norfolk Public Library
· North Platte Public Library
· Plattsmouth Public Library
· Ravenna Public Library
· Scottsbluff, Lied Scottsbluff Public Library
· Sidney Public Library, Special Model Program Partner
· South Sioux City Public Library
· Wayne Public Library
Twelve additional libraries will be selected in 2018 to host makerspaces in 2019/20.