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Social Innovator Award: Chicago Public Library

Winner in: 2013

The first experiment in Chicago Public Library’s new Innovation Lab is the Maker Lab, designed to stretch the ways in which the library provides patrons access to the ideas and information of the day. The Maker Lab joins the growing movement of hands-on, collaborative learning communities in which people come together to share knowledge and resources to design, create and build. The Chicago Public Library is the first large urban library to experiment with a maker space; its experimental lab was made possible through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Chicago Public Library Foundation. As the city’s first free maker space, the Maker Lab offers Chicagoans an introduction to technology and equipment that enables new forms of art, manufacturing and business opportunities. The lab features instruction on a variety of design software and equipment, including 3D printers, laser cutters, a milling machine and a vinyl cutter.