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Mayor Bowser Launches New Innovation Labs at MLK Memorial Library

Friday, May 29, 2015

(Washington, DC) - Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, DC Public Library Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan and representatives from Google and the Friends of the Tenley/Friendship Library toured two new innovation spaces at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library that will expose District residents to cutting-edge technologies that could lead to new entrepreneurial opportunities. The two new spaces, a fabrication lab and a recording and editing studio, along with the existing Digital Commons and Dream Lab, are part of the new “The Labs at DC Public Library.” 

“My administration is working to make sure every District resident has the opportunity to embrace emerging and high-end technology as we create more pathways to the middle class,” said Mayor Bowser. “Opening spaces like the Labs in the Library means that anyone can be a maker, and anyone can interact with the technology to solve real-world problems, gain new knowledge and develop marketable skills.”

“The Labs represent the next step in the evolution of public libraries from passive centers of learning to active destinations for creativity and innovation,” said Executive Director Reyes-Gavilan. “We are excited to present this new service to District residents and provide a small sample of what will ultimately be available in the modernized Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.”

The Fabrication Lab, or Fab Lab, is a 900-square-foot space that features materials, tools and technology to allow for hands-on exploration and learning by doing. Customers will be able to use equipment like 3-D printers, laser cutters, computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines and soldering equipment. The Studio Lab is 850-square-foot space that features a digital production lab with computers loaded with audio and video editing software, a voiceover studio, and a production studio for recording music and video. 

The Labs will open full-scale in June and offer programs for all ages.  After attending an orientation and safety session, customers ages 13 and older can be trained to use the equipment independently. In addition, Google and the Friends of the Tenley/Friendship Neighborhood Library are each partnering with the Library to jump-start programs in the Labs.

Google has donated $20,000 to the DC Public Library Foundation to support The Labs. The majority of the funds, $15,000, would be spent on audio/video supplies for the Studio Lab, such as handheld video and still cameras; tripods and other photography equipment; desktop and laptop computers with additional memory; and industry-standard computer software. The remaining $5,000 will be used to train librarians on using the equipment and developing library-based programming.

The Friends of the Tenley/Friendship Neighborhood Library are sponsoring a Maker-in-Residence program that will give makers, designers and artists a chance to work in the Labs at DC Public Library to explore, create, document and share innovative projects. The maker will create one significant project during his/her residency; host one community class/training per month in the Labs at DC Public Library on his/her area(s) of expertise; host one workshop per quarter at the Tenley/Friendship Neighborhood Library; hold 8-10 hours of “open studio time” per month in the Labs at DC Public Library and provide training on aspects of making, such as robotics, micro-computing, or product design, for example, to library patrons and staff. The Maker-in-Residence program has been made possible through a $25,000 grant from the Friends of the Tenley/Friendship Neighborhood Library.

Today’s announcement is part of innoMaytion, a month-long initiative spearheaded by Mayor Bowser to showcase innovative programs that create jobs, engage residents and position the District as a hub of innovation.

The Studio and Fab labs were completed by the design/build team of GCS Inc./Franck & Lohsen Architects. The total project cost $490,000 and had a CBE participation rate of 69 percent.

The Fab Lab will be open from noon to 8 pm. Monday through Thursday; from noon to 5 pm on Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The Studio Lab will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m on Saturdays. For more information on courses and to sign up for an orientation, visit