The Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab at Kansas State University’s Hale Library is creating amazing opportunities for K-Staters and community members alike. The state-of-the-art technology-focused facility is located on the first and second floors of the library and is available for anyone to stop by and use.
“From our artificial intelligence studio to our collaboration spaces, we invite individuals from all walks of life to come use our resources,” Jeff Sheldon, associate director of the lab, said. “Not only does the innovation lab provide teaching, learning and research opportunities for K-Staters, it also allows entrepreneurs and community members to dive headfirst into technology they may not otherwise have access to.”
The spaces within the lab include equipment and technology that provide opportunities for its users to record presentations, conduct interviews, produce music, practice with artificial intelligence, test out 3D printers and laser cutters, use sewing and Cricut machines and more. Certain equipment is also available to K-State students, faculty and staff to checkout and use for academic purposes.
According to Sheldon, discussions around ways to modernize Hale Library and its offerings have floated around for many years and have evolved and progressed over time. Making sure the library offered a novel “maker’s space” of sorts was always high on the list of priorities, evolving into the idea of an innovation lab. After the fire at Hale Library in 2018, a very generous investment from the Sunderland Foundation allowed the concept of the lab to become reality.
Formed as a collaboration between K-State Libraries and the Division of Information Technology, the innovation lab opened its doors in 2021. As time goes on, the space will continue to evolve and feature the latest technology based on the needs of the community and K-Staters. In fact, there are already plans in place to update the lab with a new user experience via an immersion studio. The studio will include virtual reality and wall projections as a unique way to visualize digital material.
“We are so honored to be able to serve as an important resource in our community,” Sheldon said. “Whether you are a hobbyist, have a budding music career or want to open a small business and can’t afford the equipment to get started, you can visit our lab and gain valuable experience with our resources and technology before making that huge investment leap.”
The lab is accessible through the sunflower entrance at Hale Library Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. During those times, staff can answer questions and walk through equipment specifics. A reservation is not required but is recommended for some of the spaces. To reserve a space, call 785-532-6000.