Nearly three years ago, the Watertown Free Public Library hosted a DIY Halloween Costume Bootcamp in a retail space at the Arsenal Mall, marking the opening of Watertown’s first public makerspace, Hatch. Since then, Hatch has flourished with programs, events, and, most importantly, a growing community of makers. Fast-forward to today, and Hatch has moved into its new space at the Residence at Watertown Square, hired a full-time coordinator [Liz Helfer], built up a dynamic group of volunteers and encouraged creativity among its users. Library staff have worked hard to bring this opportunity to the community, but the work would have never happened were it not for a network of generous organizations and people.
First on the list is the Arsenal Project who hosted Hatch, rent and utility free, since October 2014. Library Assistant Director Caitlin Browne noted “there is no space at the library to host a small scale makerspace, let alone one as dynamic as Hatch has become. Without the generosity of the Arsenal Project, our vision would likely never have become a reality.” Similarly, the Residence at Watertown Square has opened its doors to Hatch and offered a retail space, rent-free. Browne says that the openness to community collaboration with two different commercial enterprises has been “surprising, exciting, and refreshing.”
Up until July when the Hatch Coordinator position was added to library, all Hatch expenses were paid from state and local grants, special gifts, and donations. Among the donors was the Watertown Community Foundation providing $12,500 to Hatch since 2015, the WFPL Building Committee, the library’s 501(c)3 fundraising group, contributing over $11,000 and the Best Buy Foundation awarding $10,000.
Perhaps the most important factor in making Hatch successful has been the people— all the space, equipment, and money would be of little use if we didn’t have passionate and driven makers to help Hatch grow. Browne says Janet Buck, the “volunteer, volunteer coordinator” was a huge part of building the volunteer community that Hatch users have come to rely on. Of Buck, she says “Janet has kindly given us her time and creativity over the past three years. I could not have brought on all of these volunteers on my own, and Janet’s willingness to do this on her own time is yet another example of a community coming together to create an opportunity. Because of her, and all of our talented volunteers, we have been able to show Watertown that this is a program worth supporting.”
Hatch had it’s soft-opening at the Residence at Watertown Square on July 8. Stay tuned for extended hours and new programing this fall.
(Submitted by the Watertown Free Public Library)
Hatch is a makerspace developed and run by the Watertown Free Public Library. A makerspace is a public workshop where users can take advantage of various equipment and technologies that they may not otherwise have available to them. Hatch, like the library, is free and open to all users.
About the Watertown Free Public Library
The Watertown Free Public Library provides access to a wide variety of popular materials, resources, services, and programs that fulfill the informational, cultural and recreational needs of Watertown and surrounding communities. The WFPL works to create an environment that attracts and welcomes users of all ages and abilities.