Library innovation centers breaking down barriers for artists and entrepreneurs

Library innovation centers breaking down barriers for artists and entrepreneurs

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - Libraries are knocking down barriers for entrepreneurs and artists by bringing in high-tech equipment.

In this digital age, branches are quickly adapting to be more user friendly. The Cuyahgoa County Public Library launched three innovation centers last year inside the Parma-Snow, Garfield Heights and Mayfield Heights branches.

"The focus really is to expand folks' technological literacy. To get them thinking in a design way and in a creative way whether they're artists, tinkerers or entrepreneurs," said Matthew Skvasik, innovation programming specialist with the Cuyahoga County Public Library. "Maybe they have an idea for a business or a concept and they don't have all the funds or they want to dip their toe into the technology. This allows them the access to the do that."

Some of the centers feature 3-D printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, embroidery machines, wood cutters, t-shirt presses and much more.

Edward Zmarzly uses the innovation center at the Parma-Snow branch almost weekly.

"It's very, very expensive technology and to be able to come down here (and) get an idea out of your head and into three dimensional for 20-cents is incredible," Zmarzly said.

Zmarzly is an accomplished sculptor who's been metal casting since college. His work includes bronze statues, desk art and outdoor pieces. He said while the technique of pouring metals hasn't changed- the design phase of making models have.

"I would have to make it out of wax, clay, wood (or) steel," Zmarzly said. "With the innovation center now I can form things, and I can model things electronically and print them. Then I have it in plastic."

Key chains, desk plaques and outdoor sculptures are some of the new designs Edward is developing with help from the 3-D printer and software programs.

"It helps me eliminate a lot of design issues," Zmarzly said.

The items are free to use. Guests can bring their own materials like wood, paper and resin or buy select items from the library.

"We had a woman at our Garfield Heights branch who was using our laser cutter, and she was making jewelry," Skvasik said. "So she would make her own jewelry line and sell them on Etsy. We also had a local brewery come in, and they engraved bottle openers for their grand opening."

Skvasik said the innovation centers are giving people a sense of freedom.

"The most exciting thing to me is the eureka moment," Skvasik said. "They go, 'Oh my gosh I made this,'"

Zmarzly is excited for the future.

"It's kind of like Christmas all the time," Zmarzly said. "You're always trying to make something and get something new."

April 21, a memory lab opens at the South Euclid branch. Users will be able to digitize items like VHS tapes and old photographs.

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