On the third floor of the Fine Arts Library at The University of Texas at Austin, staffers, faculty members and students, regardless of their roles on campus, can find tools to print gravity-defying sculptures, carve printable circuit boards or embroider customized logos.
The Foundry is a makerspace full of 3D printers, laser cutters, digital embroidery machines, a recording studio and more, almost all of which are free to use for teaching, research or just a creative side project. Arts and Creative Technologies librarian Boris Brodsky says the Foundry was created to be accessible.
“Libraries are all about places for knowledge creation,” Brodsky says. “You could come in, come out, use our resources and write a paper or do your research. This is a natural extension of all that, and we want to create access to equipment that people wouldn’t be able to access anywhere else.”
Planning for the Foundry began in 2015 when former Fine Arts librarian Laura Schwartz and Arts and Entertainment Technologies director Bruce Pennycook wrote a grant proposal to the Hearst Foundation in New York, which Brodsky says contributed $200,000 to the space. It opened the following year.
The Foundry is designed to inspire collaboration, Brodsky says. People using the tools in the open workspace can talk about what they’re working on, which he says leads to partnering on future projects.
“We get a cross-pollination of ideas that way,” he says. “Since we’re a teaching space, we require that you pretty much stay here. We’re not a print service.”