The Athens County Public Libraries, or ACPL, are official partners with UpCycle Ohio: Community MakerSpace projects, and together, the two organizations have been able to foster a system that is beneficial for everyone involved.
Erin Hogan, associate librarian on the adult programming team at ACPL, said one of the things the organizations want to emphasize and support is to create opportunities for people in the area to upcycle.
“We thought along the lines as a partnership, that we could do a program that would allow area teams to have some options for DIY fashion, specifically related to prom preparations on a budget, and see what they could make that would be really unique just for them, but also incorporate upcycling,” Hogan said.
Events like the ones at the MakerSpace are also being held at different library branches to make these events more accessible for a wider variety of people, Pauline Phillips, manager of Community MakerSpace, said. The event this weekend will be held at the MakerSpace, 751 W. Union St.
The free event on Saturday, April 16, and Saturday, April 23, will be in preparation for prom. Those attending prom can customize and upcycle their formal wear. The people that come into this MakerSpace are able to shop through fabric, ribbons and beads that are for sale, and the library will cover the cost.
“We want to make sure that this is open to people of all income levels and they have an opportunity for the formal wear as a base and then the supplies,” Hogan said.
Becca Lachman, communications officer for ACPL, said the libraries used to be a part of a local group of institutions and nonprofits who decided to collaborate with Rural Action when ReUse closed down.
“They wanted to resurrect some of the services from that institution, for the community, so Rural Action stepped in and so did the libraries,” Lachman said. “One major way we did that is we resurrected the free Tool Library that's out there at the MakerSpace, so they run it but it's technically the Athens County Public Library's Tool Library.”
The library works to provide items for everyone that walks through the MakerSpace’s door.
Phillips said the MakerSpace also hosts a plethora of other classes, like a mending circle, an LGBTQ+ alterations class, a couple of classes through the woodshop and are potentially adding welding classes in the future.
“I think really the big thing is as a space and through our collaborations with the library and the other people that we've partnered with, our goal overall, is to help people gain a wider breadth of experience with resiliency and self-sufficiency,” Phillips said.
Lachman said the libraries are all about partnering with institutions in Athens because then they are able to reach more people.
“That is one reason why we have that close partnership with (MakerSpace) — we saw the resources they had been able to offer and we didn't want them to go away,” Lachman said.
Phillips said that many of the events are age-specific, but this upcoming one is for those attending prom, though the MakerSpace is a welcoming environment for everyone. Hogan, Phillips and Lachman encourage anyone interested to attend the event or look into attending an event to learn the ways of community upcycling.
“It's Earth Month, there (are) always reasons to be thinking about, ‘OK, how can we reuse something or upcycle it?’” Lachman said.