$800K Hamilton library tech center doubles in size, moves into new home

HAMILTON — While the coronavirus has created challenges at the three Lane Library locations, the one in Hamilton has reopened its Lane Libraries Community Technology Center in a new 5,500 square-foot facility.

The technology center recently opened in the former Hamilton JournalNews building, 228 Court St. The center cost about $800,000 to build out and furnish with equipment and was funded through the Leroy Roesel Gift Fund, a $3 million endowment the libraries received in 2010 from his estate, said Carrie Mancuso, the library systems public relations manager.

The fund will pay for all expenses associated with the tech center, she said.

Customers must wear protective masks and remain at least six feet apart in all the libraries, including the technology center, Mancuso said. Some of the areas have reduced seating capacity and fewer computers because of COVID-19, she said.

ExploreButler County sheriff wants to refill 14 positions eliminated in budget cuts

But it was important to open the center to Butler County residents, especially at a time when many students are learning virtually from home.

“We know the need still exists,” Mancuso said.

The lab center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. Eventually, once some of the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the center will be open on Saturday.

Lane Library system has locations in Hamilton, Fairfield and Oxford, the Smith Library of Regional History in Oxford and the bookmobile department. Because of the coronavirus, the bookmobile staff is providing delivery service of materials to those who live in the service area, about half of Butler County.

Mancuso said the libraries have seen a large spike in use of digital services as customers look for ways to access materials at home. She said card members are downloading more books and music and streaming movies than before the coronavirus.

The library also has added a free online tutor service for students who need academic assistance from home.

The technology center, located next door to the original center, has doubled in size, allowing for expanded services to patrons.

New amenities include an audiovisual lab, a youth-only computer area, youth gaming area, and new Virtual Reality (VR) setup.

There are dedicated spaces for classes, use of the Glowforge laser cutter, and a Makerspace. Technology available for public use includes 3D printers, Glowforge laser cutter, Cricut smart cutting machine, sewing machine, specialized software (Adobe Creative Cloud), and an all new camera and audio recording setup.

Some of the services, because of COVID-19 restrictions, are not available yet, Mancuso said.

The laser cutter allows customers to bring in their items and etch or burn a name on the items. She said customers can send in files, work with staff members or use designs off a free web site. Mancuso rattled off several examples.

“It’s limitless,” she said.

She said the 3D printer is a free service, but customers are responsible for the cost of materials.

The audiovisual lab, which includes Adobe Creative Cloud, will be available to book as soon as it is complete.

Mancuso said all the new technology addictions show the “world is heading more and more” in that direction.

“It’s a new part of the library,” she said. “We saw a need to expand our services and this is our response.”

For more information about the Lane Tech Center, call 513-785-2727.

About the Author