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Westminster Branch library reopens, paving the way for launch of Exploration Commons makerspace

The reopening of the Carroll County Public Library’s Westminster Branch also brings the completion of Exploration Commons at 50 East, a project that transformed the basement of the library into a makerspace with a professional teaching kitchen and other collaborative workspaces and meeting rooms.

On Tuesday, the Westminster Branch will reopen to the public with regular hours after an eight-week closure to install HVAC equipment and replace the building’s roof. This work was the final step in completing the Exploration Commons space.

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Exploration Commons is designed to create engaging experiences in a collaborative environment for individuals to achieve professional, educational and personal goals, according to a news release.

“Maryland’s public libraries continue to be innovators, bringing the latest in technology to their communities,” said Andrea Berstler, executive director of the Carroll County Public Library. “Exploration Commons is the next stage of libraries, combining access to modern equipment and the necessary software with the ability to learn from highly trained staff who are dedicated to assisting each customer with their ideas and making those ideas a reality. … We are delighted to bring this next generation of libraries to Carroll County.”

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The Carroll County Public Library system will hold a ribbon cutting celebrating the grand opening of Exploration Commons on Dec. 17 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., with the new space opening to the public the next day.

Operating hours will be Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The 14,000 square foot makerspace provides software and equipment for design, development and fabrication in a collaborative space that encourages individual and community learning, according to the news release. Exploration Commons’ teaching kitchen includes commercial culinary equipment and access to local and national experts. Meeting room spaces offer flexible seating arrangements with state-of-the art audiovisual equipment to support a variety of uses.

The facility will also:

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  • Offer access and training for those looking to learn new job skills.
  • Connect career mentors with youth and adults seeking new workforce opportunities.
  • Offer self-directed and instructor-led learning opportunities, tailored to meet each person’s individual skill level.
  • Provide tools, training and support for startups and businesses to develop innovative products and services.
  • Connect individuals to formal training and certification pathways.

“For generations, libraries have connected communities,” said Leza Griffith, president of the Carroll County Library Board of Trustees. “We are excited to enter this next phase of library service with the addition of Exploration Commons, where we will connect our customers with engaging experiences in a collaborative environment to achieve professional, educational and personal goals.”

Sharon Hafner Yingling, chair of the Exploration Commons Fundraising Committee, said the project was possible because of public and private funding and support.

“The generosity of our community has allowed CCPL to become and remain one of the best libraries in the state. … With Exploration Commons at 50 East, we join national leaders and innovators,” she said.

Funding for the new $4.9 million facility was provided, in part, by the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the Maryland State Capital Grants for Libraries program. The county contributed $600,000 and the library system raised the remaining funds.

For more information, visit https://explorationcommons.carr.org or https://library.carr.org. A full list of upcoming programming at Exploration Commons will be available soon at https://bit.ly/3d6hFCh.

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