MAKERSPACE LEADER IS LIBRARIAN'S "DREAM JOB"
When the Tualatin Public Library first received funding to create a mobile makerspace, Kit Lorelied recalls volunteering to be involved with the project.
While that space wasn’t as large as a full-fledged dedicated space, a $100,000 grant from the America’s Best Communities contest allowed the library to fill a trailer with makerspace items.
However, when Lorelied heard the library was planning a full-fledged separate space for creative endeavors — space set aside for creating both physical objects and digital media — their interest was piqued.
“I got really excited and started reading more and more, realizing that I’ve kind of always been part of the ‘maker movement,’” Lorelied said.
Lorelied recalls that as Jerianne Thompson, Tualatin Public Library director, talked about pursuing carving out a makerspace inside the library, they became even more interested.
“Jerianne, she really, really did a great job of finding capital funds and then finding donors — through our (Friends of the Library) and some of the other organizations — that gave money to us so that we can have a dedicated space,” said Lorelied, who also lives in the Tualatin community.
In October 2021, the $450,000 Tualatin Public Library makerspace officially opened.
Lorelied is in charge of the 735-foot room, which is filled with a tabletop kiln, vinyl cutters, 3D printers, woodburning and leather decorating equipment, and more.
The most popular pieces of equipment proved to be the 3D printers. Although people may come in and be initially overwhelmed or intimidated, once Lorelied talks them through, the “lightbulbs” go on, and the creative juices start flowing.
“Then they’re off teaching other people how to use the lab,” Lorelied said.
For the moment, Lorelied said their favorite makerspace activity is designing on the Glowforge, a water-cooled laser cutter.
“You can use it to carve wood or acrylic or that sort of thing, and so I’ve been learning to design files for that to make 3D objects,” they said. “That’s been really, really fun.”
Right now, Lorelied is learning to cut a tongue-and-groove pattern that will allow them to create joints for the shelves they are making. Lorelied said once they are finished practicing, they plan to fabricate their finished project out of walnut.
In addition to their makerspace duties, Lorelied is also the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) librarian, a job that includes hosting the library’s Science Spectacular, a weekly event over the summer that gives young people hands-on involvement with such things as rockets, hovercraft, flying machines, electricity and more.
A recent egg drop, where eggs are dropped from atop a six-foot-tall ladder, proved to be a big hit. The idea was to teach students how to pad their eggs, or hold them inside a crafted structure, so they won’t break when they hit the ground.
“Or sometimes they don’t want that at all,” Lorelied added. “They just want to see the egg splat. That happens too.”
Having grown up in Oklahoma, Lorelied said their original pursuit was seeking a degree in meteorology, having a love for tornadoes. They hoped to become a storm chaser someday.
But they also had a love for libraries, and Lorelied ended up earning an undergraduate degree in English and a master’s degree in library and information science.
In their spare time, Lorelied loves to engage in craft projects and is learning how to paint with watercolors.
“I’m learning to do watercolor, because I’m tempted to write my own children’s fiction book,” they said.
When not doing library activities, Lorelied is a big video gamer. They enjoy spending time with their children, too.
And Lorelied is very happy doing what they do as Tualatin’s STEAM librarian, helping kids and adults alike to unlock their creativity, learn, make and explore.
“I will say straight-up, this is my dream job,” Lorelied said. “Not only do I get to do all of this as a makerspace, but even within the library, as a librarian, I choose the graphic novels, the board games … and video games. It’s a nerd heaven.”