The Superior Express -

Innovation Studios leaving Superior


Deb Ostdiek displays the welcome sign she fashioned on the CNC router which is part of the Innovation Studio program at the Superior Public Library. The studio is set to leave Superior in the next week.

The Superior Public Library has been home to the Innovation Studio for five months. Vickie Perrie, librarian, related it will be departing for Lincoln for maintenance on the machines, supply restocking and then placed at another library in the very near future. It is one of several studios outfitted for use by public libraries,

The Library Innovation Studios project is overseen by the Nebraska Library Commission. Thanks to a grant, the library commission has been able to outfit several studios for placement in libraries in towns large and small.

The concept is simple. Open up the possibilities that technology presents for creative expression. The studios circulate among libraries to allow the residents to obtain hands-on working experience in different media.

The library staff is trained on the operation of the equipment. Then the general public is invited to express themselves using the different machines.

The COVID-19 pandemic curtailed the availability of the studio. The library was closed to the public for protective measures for more than two months.

Despite the handicap of truncated availability, the studio attracted a number of users. Some, such as Deb Ostdiek, became accomplished operators and creators with several machines.

Library patrons were able to utilize materials provided with the studio as well as their own materials.

The project proved to be popular enough that two anonymous donations allowed the library to purchase three of the seven machines that make up the studio. These purchases are of new machines, not those currently with the studio.

The library welcomes additional donations which would allow for expansion of the permanent studio program at the library.

The studio features seven machines.

The CNC router utilizes computer programs to carve designs, whether simple or complex, into a variety of material such as different types of plastic, wood and metal. The operator designs their work on the computer and the machine does the rest.

The future of manufacturing is 3-D printing. Though the Innovation Studio model is scaled to smaller projects, 3-D printers are capable of manufacturing houses and aircraft parts among other things. The design is fed into the computer and the printer builds up the object. Perrie produced a large number of articulated sharks and alligators or maybe they were crocodiles or perhaps caiman, for use in the summer reading program.

A popular machine was the heat press. It is capable of placing designs on a wide range of materials from cloth to vinyl to wood. A computer is utilized to input the design. The design is then transferred to the heat press. The pattern is then printed out on sublimation printer. A sublimation printer utilizes special inks to create the design. The current setup utilizes two printers.

A combination sewing and embroidery machine was another popular destination. The machine allows the user to embroider without having to do the needle work. It is a boon for those who love to embroider but find their hands crippled by arthritis. Or if you're lazy, it also works. The sewing machine functions as a regular sewing machine without human intervention other than entering information into the computer.

A laser cutter allows the user to place a design on wood, metal vinyl and other materials. The machine sits atop a large air filter machine. Once again, a pattern, design or print is fed into the computer. The material is inserted into the machine. The computer lines up the design. The computer feeds the information to the cutter and the product is soon finished.

There was a computer set up with a creative music program. Unfortunately, it was far too complicated for the users and received no usage.

Vicki Perrie, librarian at the Superior Public Library, shows off a shark she made on a 3-D printer. The printer is part of the Innovation Studio program which is scheduled to leave the library next week.

The final component of the studio was also the most low tech. The button maker was popular with young and older users alike. It requires hand power, a design or picture for the button face and no computers.

The library has purchased the three most popular machines. They have acquired a sewing and embroidery machine, a button maker and a heat press along with two printers.

Deb Ostdiek made extensive use of the CNC router. She fashioned apartment numbers and numerous items for family members. Her unbounded enthusiasm for the machine was evident. She remarked she would like to acquire one for her personal use. While the $2,500 price tag for innovation studio model might seem high, she has her sights set on an $8,000 model.

Perrie is pleased with response generated by the studio. Her regret is that the pandemic impacted its availability to the public. She is trying to recreate the studio as a permanent fixture at the Superior Library. Community involvement is vital as are donations to fulfill the dream of keeping abreast of the newest technology.


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