The Johnson County Library in Overland Park, Kansas, isn’t your typical library. Yes, there are shelves upon shelves of books for all ages and librarians available to help you find what you are looking for. But a new area called “MakerSpace” sets Johnson County Library apart—and Signs By Tomorrow – Overland Park helped develop cutting edge, technology-themed custom signage to capture the essence of this unique place.
So what is MakerSpace exactly? Located next to the Information Services desk of the library, the MakerSpace is a place for people of all ages to play, tinker and experiment with media, design and electronics in an open and collaborative environment. Billed as “DIY learning at its best,” the space can be used for anything, from digital imaging projects to costume creations and more.
In A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces, author Ellyssa Kroski describes this new phenomenon: “Makerspaces, sometimes also referred to as hackerspaces, hackspaces, and fablabs are creative, DIY spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn. These spaces bring tools to people to allow them to create in a way that is both innovative and engaging, and they are popping up more and more in communities around the country.”
Signs By Tomorrow has a long-standing relationship with the Johnson County library, with a history of smaller signage projects that has grown over time to include larger projects as well. After meeting with architects and engineers who proposed extremely costly graphics solutions including a $3,000 fee just for a consultation, MakerSpace coordinators brought in Signs By Tomorrow – Overland Park to help.
Representatives from the library met with center owner Cece Corona to share their vision for MakerSpace—along with their budget and timeline. “The overall project was a room in a huge library that would entice people interested in computers and new technology to come in and investigate,” explains Corona. “They wanted things on the windows, glass and walls. They wanted a sign to light up and have the punk/industrial look of retro gold and silver complete with quiet moving gears.” Signs By Tomorrow signed on…and agreed to make it happen for under $3,000.
Corona and her team rose to the challenge, developing a number of elements for the space, including gear frosted vinyl graphics for the glass doors and in metal for the wall. But perhaps the most striking component is the MakerSpace logo above the door. Industrial-looking jagged edge stand-off letters are backlit by purple LED lights and overlaid on top of spinning metal gears – a revolutionary look for a revolutionary concept.
Says Corona, “Once we understood the vision and assembled our team, the project moved smoothly.” Signs By Tomorrow recommended signage materials and worked with an outside consultant, 3FireCreative, to help with the box and gears.
The materials for the sign were simple: max metal, PVC, and paint, plus 3M mat control tack and custom color wrap by 3M to make the letters stand out from the gears. As it turned out, the more mechanical the sign looked, the better. “The library wanted the gears and wire to show to give it a mechanical look,” explains Corona. “In this case, Signs By Tomorrow actually had to unhide the wires.”
The goal was to create the sign and accompanying graphics within 30 days, in time for the grand opening. Signs By Tomorrow had everything installed by then, and the gears on the sign were operational just two weeks later. The sign, which can be turned off and on with a single light switch so it does not waste energy when the library is closed, may be installed in other Johnson County Library branches in the future.
“The client was blown away and extremely happy with the end project,” says Corona. “Signs By Tomorrow is the only company who knows how to make this and do it creatively with moving gears.”
It isn’t just amazing graphics and signage! There are all kinds of things to create with in this innovative library.