July 27 2017

Do Space: A Library With No Books

What exactly is Do Space?

Do Space is a technology library open to everyone in greater Omaha. We provide free access to the latest software, devices and ultra-fast internet. We also offer free tech workshops – over 50 every month – from basic computing to advanced programming. We operate a 28,000 square foot building right in the heart of the city, at the busiest intersection in the State of Nebraska.

What is your mission?

Our mission is to empower our community by ensuring that everyone has both access to technology and the confidence to use it.

What inspired you to start Do Space?

Omaha, like many cities in the United States, suffers from a distinct digital divide in which people living in under-connected communities do not have access to computers or the internet at home. Do Space was a collaborative project among community leaders who saw a need to increase access to technology. A free, community space focused on technology helps to alleviate the inequities many face due to the digital divide – whether that’s the ability to complete homework or fill out an online job application. In addition, digital skills are more important than ever to our entrepreneurial community in Omaha as our tech startup scene continues to grow. If we can create opportunities to challenge our creative class to learn more and boost their digital skills, our local businesses and tech startups will be stronger for it. We provide people from all walks of life access to the latest software and devices, for free.

What kind of resources do you have in Do Space that others can come use?

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of HDR Architecture, Inc © 2016 Dan Schwalm/HDR Photo courtesy of HDR Architecture, Inc © 2015 Assassi Productions

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of HDR Architecture, Inc :copyright: 2016 Dan Schwalm/HDR Photo courtesy of HDR Architecture, Inc :copyright: 2015 Assassi Productions

We have a variety of hardware and software for a broad audience. We feature several 3D printers, a resin 3D printer, 3D scanners, a laser cutter, a vinyl cutter, among other tools well known in the maker movement. We also have over 50 computer workstations loaded with design software like Adobe Creative Suite and we have over a gigabit of bandwidth, so our internet connection can handle just about any amount of traffic. We also have mobile devices like laptops and tablets, and Tech Kits that members check out to use within the building. Tech Kits include robotics kits for kids, virtual reality headsets like Google Cardboard, Raspberry Pi’s (a really neat credit-card-sized computer that is a great tool for adults and kids to learn programming), and dozens of other experimental technologies to challenge members to learn new things.

What do most people use Do Space for?

People use Do Space in a lot of different ways. I’d encourage you to take a look at our I Heart Do Space website (iheartdospace.org) to learn more. We created this platform so members could tell their own story of what they’re working on at Do Space, and you’ll see on the site that stories range from kids learning how to code, to people working on job applications, to seniors teaching each other how to text their grandkids.

More and more technology has been separating people, do you think that Do Space is helping bring people together?

Absolutely! On any given day at Do Space, you’ll see a diverse group of people here working on a variety of projects, attending programs, and interacting with each other. We have intentionally created Do Space to be a welcoming, inclusive place for people of all levels of tech expertise. Even our brand – Do Space – is focused on action rather than on technology. Our goal is to bring people together to use technology as a tool to get things done.

What has Do Space achieved since it has opened?

Since opening in November 2015, Do Space has welcomed over 265,000 visitors to our building and we’ve seen our membership grow to over 48,000. We’ve had 15,000 people attend programs and our computer lab has been used for 112,000 hours. Beyond that, we have curated a “you can do it!” culture among staff, volunteers, and the community. We encourage members to jump in, learn more about tech, and don’t worry about what they don’t know yet.

What is your goal for Do Space in the future?

In order to stay current with technology and remain on the cutting edge, Do Space will continue to experiment with new technologies, add new tools in our 3D Lab, and investigate new software to add to our resources. Ultimately, how Do Space evolves over time depends on the needs in our community.

Do you plan on expanding Do Space?

We haven’t ruled this out, however, any decisions we may make regarding expansion would be based on the need in the community.

Can you share with us a success story that took place at Do Space since you have opened.

We have had many success stories at Do Space – we have introduced the internet to several members for the first time, and many people have found jobs that they applied for on our computers. In our 3D Lab, we’ve had several entrepreneurs prototype products and then proceed to launch their business. One entrepreneur who has used our laser cutter to create custom engraved products is now opening his own business location and scaling his business to new clients. We’ve also had a local teenager use our 3D Lab equipment to design and create a new fashion line, which he showed at Omaha Fashion Week. Do Space is really helping remove limitations to what people in Omaha want to accomplish for themselves.


Rebecca Stavick: Executive Director

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