Written by: Pranathi Akula

In the heart of academic excellence at the University of North Texas (UNT), The SPARK at Willis Library stands as a beacon of creativity and innovation. More than just a space, the SPARK is a combination of a hands-on learning lab (Also known as maker space) and a library circulation collection that provides access to a wide range of technologies to not only support but also enhance the educational experiences of students at UNT. 

A Fusion of Creativity and Technology: 

The Makerspace at SPARK is not your typical library space. It is an innovative facility that seamlessly blends technology, collaboration, and innovativeness Equipped with state-of-the-art tools and resources, this innovative space is a testament to UNT’s commitment to providing students with an environment that nurtures both academic and creative pursuits. 

Windowed classroom with equipment
The Spark Makerspace at Willis Library Image by UNT Libraries 


Other than the one at Willis Library (room W150), the SPARK also has its branches at Discovery Park (room M152) and Frisco Landing (room 150) as well (UNT Libraries, 2023a). 

The SPARK at Discovery Park is open to all UNT students, faculty, and staff. Uniquely, in this location, the SPARK is partnering with the Mechanical Engineering department and will also have ME resources for checkout by ME students.  

Contact information and hours of operation: 

The SPARK can be reached via e-mail, TheSpark@unt.edu, or using their phone numbers available on the SPARK page. The hours of operation vary at various locations. You can check them out the operating hours on the website (UNT Libraries, 2023a).  

Innovation Studios: 

For those looking to explore emerging technologies and bring their ideas to life, SPARK’s Innovation Studios are a game-changer. These studios are equipped with innovative equipment, including 3D printers, Laser cutting, dye cutting, and more. Students and faculty alike can use these resources to prototype inventions, create multimedia projects, or delve into the world of augmented reality. 

3D Printing: 

The SPARK’s 3D printing lab is a standout feature, allowing users to transform digital designs into tangible objects. From engineering prototypes to artistic creations, the possibilities are endless. Staff members are available to assist with the printing process and provide guidance on design considerations (UNT Libraries, 2023b). 

A 3D printing machine making an object.
Object in making at 3D printing station image by Pranathi Akula 

Laser cutting: 

SPARK’s laser cutting lab is like having magical light scissors for turning digital designs into real objects. From engineering models to artistic creations, it is a space full of possibilities. Friendly staff are there to guide users through the cutting process and offer design tips. Various locations have special tools for specific tasks, making it a versatile and creative experience. Safe materials like wood and acrylic can only be used for laser cutting (UNT Libraries, 2023c).


The equipment in The SPARK has distinct categories such as bookable equipment, circulation equipment, in-space equipment, service-based equipment, and paid services. Although many items in the Spark collection are circulating, there are special loan periods, booking procedures, renewal rules, and fine rates that apply. Makerspace project requests are subject to the Spark’s review/approval process. You can find more information about this on the Circulation page of the website (UNT Libraries, 2023d).  

Specialized Equipment and Booking Procedures: 

The SPARK boasts an impressive array of equipment, some of which is bookable for in-depth projects. Items such as Cameras and lenses are available through booking requests, come with specific rules: 

  • Available to UNT currently enrolled students, faculty, and staff 
  • Loan Period: 4 days 
  • Renewals Allowed: No 
  • Check Out Limits: Varied, e.g., 1 camera, 2 lenses max. 
  • Fines Rate: $10.00 per day, $100.00 maximum fine 
  • Repair/Replacement Cost: Damages incurred while in use may be charged to the patron.

Circulating Equipment and In-Space Use Equipment:

The SPARK’s equipment falls into two primary categories: Circulating and In-Space. 

Circulating Equipment: 

The Equipment which are available for checkout are termed as circulating items. Laptops, chargers, cameras, headsets, sound equipment, lightening kits, markers, etc., are the few items that can be checked out at the SPARK. 

  • Available to UNT currently enrolled students, faculty, and staff 
  • Loan Period: Varies 
  • Renewals Allowed: Yes, if no holds 
  • Fines Rate: Depending on Equipment 
  • Repair/Replacement Cost: Damages incurred while in use may be charged to the patron 

In-Space Equipment:  

This in-space equipment can be checked out but can only be used within the library.  

Some of the in-space equipment are hand and electric tools, scientific/probe ware, soldering equipment, drawing tools, presentation tools, pottery tools, etc. 

  • Available to UNT currently enrolled students, faculty, and staff 
  • Loan Period: Varies based on equipment 
  • Renewals Allowed: Yes, if no one is waiting 
  • Check Out Limits: 1 item 
  • Fines Rate: $10.00 per hour, $100.00 maximum fine 
  • Repair/Replacement Cost: Damages incurred while in use may be charged to the patron 

Service-Based Equipment and Paid Services: 

Certain equipment within the Maker space requires a trained operator and has specific use rules. Additionally, SPARK offers paid services, such as full-service 3D printing, laser cutting, die cutting, etc., but, before using them students and staff should get trained. Please refer to the Trainings & Workshops page.  

  • Available to UNT community (students, faculty, and staff) 
  • Use: Subject to review and approval 
  • Production Limits: 1 item 
  • Materials: Supplied by the patron, including a test piece 
  • Repair/Replacement Cost: Damages incurred while in use may be charged to the patron. 
  • Full-Service 3D Printing: 
  • Available to: Anyone 
  • USE: Subject to review and approval, submit .stl file 
  • Time frame: 7-10 days from the date paid. 
  • Materials: ABS or PLA 
  • Cost: $1/hour 
  • Files:  .stl format 

Creative Workshops and Events:

The SPARK is not just a physical space; it is a vibrant community that thrives on knowledge-sharing and skill-building. Regular workshops and events hosted at the SPARK cover a range of topics, from digital media production to coding and beyond. These opportunities ensure that the UNT community is not just consumers of technology but active contributors to the ever-evolving landscape of innovation. You can find more information related to workshops and scheduling training and workshops in the Trainings & Workshops page of the website.  


In the heart of UNT’s Willis Library, the SPARK is a testament to the university’s dedication to fostering creativity and innovation. By providing innovative technology, collaborative spaces, and a supportive community, the SPARK at Willis Library catalyzes the ideas and inventions that will shape the future. The SPARK is more than a space; it is a spark that ignites the imagination and propels the UNT community towards limitless possibilities. 

Did this blog help you to learn more about the SPARK at UNT Libraries? Let us know your comments! Please contact Ask Us if you have any questions about library services.  


UNT Libraries. (2023a, November 02). The SPARK. https://guides.library.unt.edu/spark/overview 

UNT Libraries. (2023b, November 02). 3D Printing. https://guides.library.unt.edu/spark/3d-printing 

UNT Libraries. (2023c, November 02). Laser Cutting. https://guides.library.unt.edu/spark/laser-cutting 

UNT Libraries. (2023d, November 02). Circulation. https://guides.library.unt.edu/spark/overview 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *