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Maker Space to Support New Program, Creativity in the Library

The University of Texas Libraries and the College of Fine Arts at UT Austin are launching a new productivity space that allows library users to take ideas and turn them into reality.

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AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas Libraries and the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin are launching a new productivity space that allows library users to take ideas and turn them into reality.

“The Foundry,” a new maker space set to open in the Fine Arts Library (FAL), will provide tools for pursuing creative impulses and ideas within a space where students can gather to create independently or collaboratively, and where users will have immediate access to traditional library resources and services to augment their work.

With the launch of the new undergraduate degree program in Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies (CAET), the Libraries and the College of Fine Arts announced in February a partnership to develop a new kind of creative space in FAL to support the specialized needs of students in the new program. The Foundry will occupy space in the library’s main level and will consist of a series of interconnected studios designed to support audio recording, video production, fabrication, 3D printing, animatronics, game design and fiber arts.

The space redevelopment is designed to provide advanced technological systems for all aspects of performance, game development, music production, digital visual arts and other forms of digital entertainment. The project is funded by the Office of the Provost, the Libraries, the College of Fine Arts and by a generous grant from the Hearst Foundation. Although it was developed primarily to support CAET, The Foundry is open to every student at the university.

“The Foundry gives students the tools, technology and creative space needed to to compose, research, record, design, print, program and create the next masterpiece or million-dollar invention,” said Dempster. “This new makerspace is a game-changer for Fine Arts students and all UT students, enabling them collaborate across disciplines to test new creative concepts and projects. Come to the Fine Arts Library and make cool stuff!”

The University of Texas Libraries have, in recent years, been working with campus partners and administrators to reimagine spaces to meet the needs of 21st-century users. In the last year, the Libraries opened the Learning Commons in the Perry-Castañeda Library, partnering with the University Writing Center to provide on-site support for written communications. Libraries also worked with Student Success Initiatives, the College of Natural Sciences and the School of Engineering to develop dedicated academic support spaces for STEM students. The Libraries also opened a Scholars Commons in PCL earlier this year with the support of the Graduate School and the Office of the Vice President for Research — a space designed to enhance graduate student success.

“No longer solely a place where people go to consume information, libraries are increasingly a destination for synthesizing knowledge and creating new knowledge products,” says Vice Provost and Director of the UT Libraries Lorraine Haricombe. “With The Foundry, we are configuring services and tools to help students, faculty and researchers conceptualize and use our resources in different ways with new technologies, and in the process gain experience and skills that will provide them an advantage in their post-academic careers.”

There will be an opening celebration for The Foundry at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 7 in the Fine Arts Library, with remarks by Provost Maurie McInnis, UT Libraries Director Lorraine Haricombe and College of Fine Arts Dean Douglas Dempster. Staff and students will be on hand for demonstrations of the new machines, tools and technologies available in the space. The event is free and open to the public.