Work never seems to stop for Patrice Parker.
Every other Saturday, you can find her at the Alief Community Center at the TECHLink center, helping area residents use the latest software and multimedia technology to fuel their creative aspirations.
The location is the busiest TECHLink location in the city, she said. “Since our grand opening on Jan. 14, we have had an estimated 7,000 visitors thus far ranging from children, teens, adults, and even seniors who have come to TECHLink to either inquire about our services, attend workshops, take a tour, or use the equipment.”
What is TECHLink?
It’s a technology center created by the Houston Public Library that brings your innovative and transformative ideas to life. TECHLink provides free and easy access to state-of-the-art equipment to help craft your next project while learning new skills and techniques.
The space provides members with instruction and tools for exploring music and video production, graphic design, photo editing, multimedia software, 3D printing, laser engraver cutter, Cricut, embroidery and much more.
“This can either be just for fun or used for further learning development to make your next concept a reality. At each location, our staff is trained to teach workshops on the variety of equipment offered,” said Parker, who is the manager at the Alief site.
A former teacher, Parker joined the Houston Public Library a year ago, saying she decided to manage TECHLink because of the uniqueness and the vast opportunities that our center brings to the community.
“I understand the importance of equitable access to communities who typically face challenges with having certain resource readily available to them,” Parker explained. “In our society, technology affects pretty much every aspect of our lives, so being part of something that bridges that gap to ensure equal access is what interested me in managing a place like TECHLink Alief.”
HPL has three TECHLink locations across Houston, but Parker describes center at the Alief location as the ‘epic DIY space.’ “We have seen a variety of projects take place such as members using our facility to record a song or video, laser engrave a picture onto a piece of wood, or embroider a design onto a backpack and much more!” she said.
“Additionally, we have members who are aspiring artists who use TECHLink to jumpstart their music career and graphic design interest.”
Parker said anyone with a Houston Public Library card can become a TECHLink member if they are 13 years of age or older. She added, however, kids under the age of 13 won’t be left out.
“There is something for everyone at TECHLink, so those under the age of 13 years old are allowed to access our Tiny TECH Area which consist of Toybox 3D printers, OSMO creative tables, and a Kaplan with a variety of educational games,” she said.
Additionally, members must watch a video on our policies and answer a few questions after the video to complete their membership. Membership is free and to utilize the equipment is free.
“Once someone become a member, they must take the desired class to gain the permission to use that particular piece of equipment,” Parker said. “Afterwards, members may reserve the space for up to two hours at a time. Not all equipment requires a workshop.”
Parker said TECHLink is a place where anyone can come to use technology that otherwise would be challenging to access immediately. “This is truly a space for you to explore and act with your creativity. The TECHLink staff is amazing with making sure to guide members by teaching workshops on various equipment,” she said.
Parker added the TECHLink support staff will assist even those members who are uneasy using the digital equipment.
“Even if technology is not something someone may absolutely be comfortable with using, they can count on the TECHLink staff to support and guide members to the best of our ability,” she said.
Anyone can visit any of our TECHLink locations during open hours for a tour. Go to this link to learn more.