“BLDG 61: Making Creative Community” by Michael Malpiedi

Earlier last month the Boulder Public Library officially opened the city’s new makerspace, BLDG 61. What is a makerspace you may be wondering? A makerspace is a creative community hub that is completely free and accessible to the public. Located behind the Canyon Theater, BLDG 61 houses a wide assortment of creative tools from 3-D printers and laser cutters to industrial sewing machines and robotics equipment. The space was made possible by a generous grant from the Boulder Library Foundation, which is supporting the Public Library in its mission to reinvent the place to be! The opening of the new makerspace is an amazing opportunity for artists in Boulder County to access state-of-the-art crafting and design equipment at little to no cost. Through BLDG 61, the library is offering local artists new avenues for their imaginations to travel.

The dream for the space is to inspire the vast community of Boulder to start taking more time to just create. I fortunately had the opportunity to step into the makerspace and speak with BLDG 61 creative technologist, Janet Hollingsworth. Janet was kind enough to take me through and introduce me to each piece of creative equipment they had in shop (see slideshow above). I honestly can’t wait to play around with the 3-D printers and make some 3-D poetry!   Janet also mentioned that the makerspace will soon house pottery wheels for use within the next month or so. The only stipulation with some of the machines is that you have to pay for the cost of supplies such as inks and toners for the printers, but use of the space and equipment is absolutely free.

With the official opening of BLDG 61, the Boulder Public Library is solidifying itself as the true creative heart of Boulder.

Currently, BLDG 61 is holding specific, supervised hours for the first couple of months. These are times for the public to drop in and play around in the space. The staff is also offering regular classes on the use of specific tech, which are also completely free to the public. Some of the current classes include vinyl cutting, laser cutting, 3-D printing, guided practices, and tool orientations. The hope is that through the classes and supervised hours, the staff can help more people become certified in the use of the equipment, thus insuring proper use and safety. BLDG 61 will begin to hold longer open hours once they can be sure that the equipment will be in good hands and they have more certified volunteers. For more information on the current open hours and classes, check out the BLDG 61 Makers Space calendar. I highly recommend getting online and registering for some of the upcoming classes since they have been filling up rather quickly!

BLDG 61 is also seeking volunteers who would like to give their time as a space assistant/supervisor. If you are interested in volunteering and spending more time in this incredible, creative haven then please visit the library’s website, or email BLDG 61 at bldg61@boulderlibrary.org, for more information.

With the official opening of BLDG 61, the Boulder Public Library is solidifying itself as the true creative heart of Boulder. Regardless of whether you choose to take classes, volunteer, or stop by to play, please be sure to take advantage of this generous space and all of its potential. There seriously is no end to what you could create within that space.

And honestly, what good are cool toys if we aren’t playing with them?


Mike Malpiedi is a goofy, loving, traveling panda that now resides in Boulder, CO. He is a website curator for boulderpoetrytribe.com and curator of the Bouldering Poets performance series. Mike is also a recent MFA graduate from the Jack Kerouac School (Summer 2015). You can find his work in the Bridge Journal (Vol 9 & 10), Love Shovel Review, and Clockwise Cat.

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