Benny Library unveils city’s first library fab lab, 4 more to come


The city of Montreal and the borough of Côte-des-Neiges – Notre-Dame-de-Grâce are opening the city’s first permanent “fab lab” inside a city library. Four more are on the way too.

Borough mayor Russell Copeman and the city of Montreal’s Smart City lead Harout Chitilian were on hand to unveil the space Monday at the Benny Library Cultural Centre Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

“We’re very pleased to once again be on the cutting edge of developments in our public library system,” said Copeman. “It will be an opportunity for people to come and work with 3D printers, co-creation and co-ideation all inside a permanent fab lab in a public library.”

A fab lab is a fabrication laboratory. They are digital manufacturing workshops in which machines like 3D printers are available to citizens to allow them to develop individual and collective projects. These places support DIY (Do It Yourself) and DIWO (Do It With Others) movements. They rely on the sharing of knowledge and expertise and encourage testing, creativity and community outreach.

The implementation of digital workshops and fab labs in libraries is one of 70 projects in the Montreal Action Plan, digital and intelligent city from 2015 to 2017 . The opening of “Fab Benny,” said the City, will help strengthen libraries as welcoming places that support creative abilities.

“One of the steps we made in the Smart City initiative is that it’s not about technology. Technology is a means to enable smart citizens,” said Chitilian. “You need to have smart, engaged, curious citizens and the fab lab is a means to engage those people.”

READ ALSO: Smart City lead Harout Chitilian plays cheerleader to the city

During the press conference the library revealed that the new fab lab will be open to the public Wednesdays and Sundays. Free workshops will be held on those days where people can come with their own projects and get support. Other activities are also planned for the fab lab, including the “Fix Café,” or one-off repair workshops.

Fab labs are closely tied with 3D printing technology, something Mayor Copeman admitted he’s new to. Still, he was enthusiastic about the “world of possibilities” that such technology comes with.

“I have a dilapidated and aging cottage in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts. I go to my local hardware store and I said “this is the piece that’s breaking down” and they say “too bad, it’s more than 50 years old.” You could literally scan that, do a computer program and produce it, and if it wasn’t in the right material you could send it to someone and have the right piece made for you,” said Copeman.

“I think it’s this whole notion of people coming together, thinking of new things and conceptualizing the future. It’s not Do it Yourself, it’s Do it With Others. I think it opens up tremendous possibilities.”

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