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February 8, 2023

Library receives grant to establish ‘creative cafe’ at Freedom Branch

WATSONVILLE—The Watsonville Public Library (WPL) has received a $12,000 grant which it will use to establish a “creative cafe” at its Freedom Branch.

Similar to a makerspace, a creative cafe is a hub offering a community a place to produce creative projects. The Freedom Branch’s will include sewing machines, a laser cutter and more to support local crafters and hobbyists, and to host group workshops with instructors.

“Rather than replicating what is already offered in Watsonville, like at the Science Workshop and Digital NEST, this place will be for crafters and hobbyists,” said children’s librarian Elizabeth Griffo. “We want to help people learn things they can use as a life skill, for a new business or just for fun.”

Griffo said that having such a space is important, as Watsonville has become a “crafter’s desert.”

“There is no Hobby Lobby or JoAnn here, no major craft store,” she said. “Even [Crossroads Fabrics] closed in October.”

WPL was presented with the grant at the Oct. 25 Watsonville City Council Meeting. It was awarded the grant through Pacific Library Partnership’s (PLP) Innovation and Technology Opportunity Grants program. Outreach Librarian Stephanie Barraza wrote the grant with support from Griffo and the rest of the WPL team. 

“Our goal is to encourage people to be creative and be their own entrepreneurs,” said Library Director Alicia Martinez. “This will be a gateway for them to do that.”

Freedom Branch’s Community Room, which Griffo said is currently only used about two hours a week for Story Time, will be transformed into the cafe. At first, the space will only be used for scheduled workshops and classes.

“With the space being so small, we’ll start by offering project-based workshops, where people can come in to make a specific craft,” Griffo said. “Our goal is to eventually offer drop-in hours, allowing people to use the tools on their own time.”

Interest in the cafe has grown, Griffo said, since the library sent out a survey asking the public for ideas.

“Some people have said, ‘We just want to learn how to hem our pants,’” she said. “Maybe they have a sewing machine but don’t know the basics. We want to give people access to tools they might not be able to purchase. They can try something new, and if they like it, they can invest.”

WPL is hoping to open the creative cafe in January. They are currently recruiting local crafters to get involved in helping organize the workshops, and have already started ordering supplies.

Donations of items such as leftover fabric, thread, yarn, craft paper and more are welcome. As part of the PLP grant is focused on sustainability, recycled materials are encouraged.

“The grant only covers so much for so long,” Griffo said. “So we’re asking for donations to sustain this. We are looking for support from the community, because this is for them.”

Freedom Branch Library is located at 2021 Freedom Blvd. For information, call 768.3420.

Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.

1 COMMENT

  1. As a member of the Watsonville Friends of the Library, I know that I speak for all the friends that we are thrilled to receive the grant. Stephanie Barraza deserves ALL the credit, as she wrote the grant. THANK YOU STEPHANIE ! and thanks to her support team as well.

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