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Spotlight: Behind the Scenes of the Library's Creative Maker Studio

eNews Edition: Fall 2022

Contributed by Eva Cohen, Learning Commons Lead

The Creative Maker Studio (CMS) is a unique department in the University Library that brings together students from all corners of the campus with the shared objective to learn, create, and collaborate. In July 2022, the rebrand from Creative Media Studio to Creative Maker Studio affirmed the department’s status as the Library’s official Makerspace. The department first opened in fall 2014 and over the course of seven years, the CMS shifted from primarily digital media services to more physical, maker-focused crafting. Returning students will be surprised to see the upgrades we’ve made to the space including reconfigured furniture to promote hands-on tinkering, upgraded soundproofing and noise treatment in the Audio Recording Room, and a new 3D Printer that supports abrasive materials such as glow in the dark filament.

Student using virtual reality in a room with a computer on a desk
Student using virtual reality in the new CMS VR room.

This fall, the CMS debuted five brand new services including a vinyl cutting station, creative scanning station with a photo/film and 3D scanner, sewing machine available for checkout and inside a reservable room, multipurpose production room with high-end lighting equipment and backdrops, and a virtual reality room where students can experience VR and work on game development. Back by popular demand, we will also be offering virtual and in-person creative workshops, too!

One of my favorite things to hear from students who visit the CMS for the first time is their excitement about all the innovative services being made available to them at no extra cost. They often kick themselves for not knowing about the CMS earlier in their college career, but are so happy they found it before they graduated so they can start using the services immediately! I’ve seen so many "regulars" return to the CMS weekly and it is always the highlight of my day connecting with these students to see what they are working on and learn how the CMS contributed to their project.

Students often express their gratitude for having a common space on campus where they can meet new people, learn from their peers, and experiment with the resources freely.  Many of the resources offered would be cost-prohibitive for most students, but they can still get access to industry standard equipment and tools right here in the Library.  We strive to make our services easy to understand with a low bar of entry for users at any skill level and in any major. Even if you’ve never touched a DSLR camera before, never tried sewing, or never even seen a 3D printer, our student assistant workers help patrons feel comfortable in a space that might be overwhelming. I’ve seen how peer-to-peer support gives students a sense of community, where they feel comfortable to express themselves creatively and share their project with others for inspiration. Every time I see students collaborating inside the CMS or expressing their enthusiasm over a 3D print or service, it warms my heart because it reaffirms to me that all the work we put into making the CMS an engaging and equitable resource for students is truly impacting their college experience in the best way.

I was first hired at the CMS as a student assistant when it opened in Fall 2014. Since then, I’ve watched the department grow and evolve from a small media center to a full-blown makerspace in just a few years. No day is ever the same working at the CMS, which is both challenging and thrilling. Since the beginning, I’ve loved being able to not only learn new technology for my own personal growth, but also share that knowledge with the CSUN community through the CMS. I am always grateful for being given the opportunity to provide lead direction for such an innovative department.

My colleague Tim Bochen is equally excited and committed to the growth of the CMS. He shared, “Students are always astonished that these services exist in the Library and at no extra cost for them to use. When I was a student assistant working at the CMS, there was always a sense of joy helping students with their 3D prints and they were always excited to pick up the print once it was ready. Now, as the full-time staff supervisor for the Creative Maker Studio, I have the ability to listen to student feedback and cater more to their needs by making the decision on what new service we could offer next, or what new equipment we can purchase and make available for checkout. I do miss the days of helping students one on one but I know my work behind the scenes is helping students learn something new every day and to be successful in their college careers.”  

This next academic year will be the first full year since 2019 that the CMS will be open for normal operations, so I am excited to see the buzz return in a place that has been pretty quiet for the last two years. I really hope students enjoy all the new services we’ve worked really hard on, and I can’t wait to see how the CMS will evolve next!

Click on our image gallery below to see some photos of the services available at the Creative Maker Studio.