Center for Innovation officially open at Fayetteville Public Library

Two of the simulators now available at the new Center for Innovation inside Fayetteville Public Library

Staff photo

A flight simulator. A photography studio. A fabrication lab. A recording studio, video studio, and podcasting room.

All of the above, and quite a bit more are now available for public use at the Fayetteville Public Library’s new J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Center for Innovation, all for the same cost you’d pay for a free hotdog at a place that offered free hot dogs (zero dollars).

The new area, part of the expanded Fayetteville Public Library, opened to the public in early June. After a brief “soft opening” period to work out some of the kinks, library officials this week announced the new area is officially ready for the public to enjoy.

The lab, located on the northwest side of the building, is loaded with up-to-date technology and opportunities for learning in a variety of areas. The first thing you’ll see in the new space, for example, is a selection of simulators to train for a variety of skills, including a Redbird SD flight simulator, a large truck simulator, a CAT hydraulic excavator simulator, and a forklift simulator.

“The Center for Innovation expands upon the concept of literacy beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic,” said David Johnson, the library’s executive director. “It now includes fabrication, robotics, digital, business, audio, visual, and workforce development literacy.”

Video studio / Staff photo

To the right is a fabrication and robotics lab, complete with 3D printers, laser cutters/engravers, heat presses, arduinos, and other tools for making and manufacturing items.

Just beyond that is a full video studio, with camera and lighting equipment, an editing suite and more.

There’s a full recording studio, with a performance room, control room, and vocal booth with microphones, a mixing board, and a ProTools audio editing setup.

The photography studio, including cameras, lighting options and backdrops, a tabletop light box, tripods, and light meters, is also available in the new facility. A computer lab nearby is full of powerful machines loaded up with photo editing software.

The VR studio includes Oculus Quest 2 and HTC Vive VR systems, and can be reserved for up to two hours at a time.

The podcasting room, located just to the north of the computer lab, is a cozy space with room for up to two people to record their work, with high-quality microphones and a mixer already set up and ready to go.

A lot of the amenities available in the new lab were mentioned to us when David Johnson told us about his vision for what he wanted the library to become several years ago.

A 3D printer inside the library’s new fabrication lab

Staff photo

“As the community’s needs evolve, so too must its library,” Johnson said. “The Center for Innovation can meet people where they are, fill a gap between those who have access to opportunities and those who do not. Patrons of all ages can be introduced to a new technology or skill that will give them a leg up when they leave Fayetteville Public Library. We aim to be a launching pad to propel people into the next stage of their journey.”

While usage of the facilities in the Center for Innovation are free, several areas do require an orientation class prior to being able to reserve the spaces. Library officials have added a schedule and sign ups for available orientation classes to their website here.

Several of the orientation sessions this month are full, but more will be added soon, officials said.

The Center for Innovation was paid for in part by a $5 million gift from the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family in October 2020.

For more information about the center, visit their website.

Recording studio performance room / Staff photo