Starting next week, Rochester Public Library patrons won't just be checking out books, they'll be making them.

On Monday, the library begins the inaugural project of its new Makerspace area, called "Your Community, Your Library, Your Story."

The Makerspace is a new studio-like space on the library's second floor, where the public can come and create works of art and produce other creative, hands-on projects.

Under the supervision of library staff, the public will be invited to make a book, write a personal story, and return the book to the library, where it will be added to the collection in a special section on the second floor. The library also plans to digitize the stories so that they will be available to read online.

The book-making project runs from Dec. 2-6 (paper making), Dec. 9-13 (screen printing), and Dec. 16-20 (book binding).

"We wanted to do a big splash opening, so in December we are going to create handmade books from recycled books," said RPL reference librarian Pam O'Hara. "What we want is 100 blank books for people to check out and write their own local history and then they give back to the library and other people can check them out. It's a way of involving the community and getting them to share their story."

Inside the Makerspace, there will be four tables, and up to eight people at a time can work on the project. The Makerspace will be open in three-hour intervals most late-afternoons.

"It's nothing really new," said Louise Moe, head of the Reference Department. "It's something that libraries are moving from, where people just come and individually study and read, to places where people come and collaborate, share knowledge and skills and passions."

Moe said she expects people to work on the projects for short periods, which should allow many people into the Makerspace to participate.

"No one is going to sit here for three hours and make paper," Moe said. "We're assuming people come in and spend 20 minutes, then someone else will come in for 20 minutes, so throughout the day there could be a large number of people. We wanted community engagement. We want people coming to the library and sharing. This fits it."

Library staff will be available for several hours each weekday during this project to help create the books. To participate, library patrons can drop in at the Makerspace during the open hours of the project as listed on the library's events calendar. The calendar is posted online at www.rochesterpubliclibrary.org/makerspace.html.

For more information, feel free to call O'Hara at 507-328-2312.