The Art of the Library MakerSpace: An Interview with Lindsey Whittle

Written by Molly Donnermeyer, Reference Librarian, Main Library

In 2015, the MakerSpace opened at the Main Library. Since then, makers from across the region have come to create. One of those makers is local artist, educator, and master crafter Lindsey Whittle. Her work is currently on view at the Contemporary Arts Center through June 16. There, you will see the towering entrance of the space covered in colorful window clings printed on the large format vinyl printer at the Main Library.

Lindsey sat down with me to talk about her work, the MakerSpace, and how libraries have impacted her art-making. Full disclosure: we have been friends and occasional collaborators for 16 years! 

Molly Donnermeyer: I have often heard you refer to yourself as a lifelong advocate for libraries. Can you tell me a little about what makes you feel that way?

Lindsey Whittle: There are so many things I love about libraries. First and foremost that it's an inclusive space. The Library serves the community in which it exists, in every way it can. There really is something for everyone here.

Libraries give people equal opportunities to learn and to grow. I am also grateful for libraries as spaces that order and archive our history; spaces that protect old books and knowledge. But it’s not just the building and the amazing things in it, it’s also the librarians and library workers. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when walking into these massive houses of knowledge, but walk up to any library worker and they will show you to what you are looking for. Often, it has been my experience that librarians will actually blow my research out of the water and help me discover things I didn’t expect.

I love how libraries have evolved with the digital era. The Library’s app is such an amazing tool that allows me to stay on top of the books I have checked out and request new ones. I use the online research databases constantly for both personal and professional purposes. 

I have all my college students use through the Library to learn how to use digital programs. I have been able to read eBooks that I normally would have no access to, and download audiobooks and magazines straight to my phone for road trips.

There are even streaming services like Kanopy, where I can watch inspiring documentaries about artists and other topics. If you know how much libraries have to offer you and your community, how could you not be an advocate?

Molly Donnermeyer: What has the MakerSpace meant to you as an artist and a small business owner?

Lindsey Whittle: My husband, Clint and I are both artists and are part of a team of people that run PIQUE, opens a new window art space in Covington, Kentucky. Choosing to fight to be an artist every day comes with a lot of sacrifices. It is not uncommon to have such stretched resources that you are choosing between supplies for a project and groceries for the week. The MakerSpace has done nothing short of change our lives.  

The MakerSpace empowers artists and small businesses in so many ways! We print signs, art prints, and posters for PIQUE that we can actually afford, which allows us to give more to our community. My husband is a comic book illustrator, and at the MakerSpace he is able to create stickers, prints, and buttons to promote his business.

I am currently in a show “Archive as Action” at the Contemporary Arts Center. So much of the work was a product of the MakerSpace. I printed the patterns for the newly welded interactive sculpture in “Archive as Action” at the MakerSpace. The entrance to the CAC is covered in my stained glass window prints. All of these window clings were printed at the MakerSpace. It took months! If it weren’t for the Library, this piece would have massively exceeded my budget, and just frankly wouldn’t have been possible.

Another piece in the show features laser cut acrylic. The staff at the MakerSpace taught me how to make my own laser cutting files in Adobe Illustrator and empowered me to make this piece possible. My husband and I spent hundreds of hours, over many months, laser cutting acrylic for this sculpture.

Learning to do it myself gave me the ability to use every last inch of the acrylic sheets, which not only meant less waste, but I was able to use the extra material to make jewelry to be sold in the CAC’s gift shop. I never would have discovered this as an option if not for the MakerSpace.

Most incredible of all is how all the Library workers in the MakerSpace never tire of all of our questions. Through supportive knowledge-sharing, they taught us how to use these complex machines, and send us off to do amazing things. I really do love my Library!

You can learn more about the Main Library's MakerSpace or book an appointment by clicking here.
Learn more about our eBranch resources, including Kanopy streaming and databases here

Photo credit: Grace DuVal and Lindsey Whittle