Library for materials opens in Maine
September 24, 2021 | 12:35 pm CDT
Maine College of Art & Design materials library

The Materials Collection at Joanne Waxman Library at the Maine College of Art & Design is the first materials library in the state of Maine. Photo: Steve Bowden 

PORTLAND, ME — Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D) has opened the first materials library in the state of Maine, offering designers, artisans, students and others a new resource for creating projects.

The Materials Collection at MECA&D’s Joanne Waxman Library is intended to provide novel, sustainable, and traditional materials to inspire, inform, and spark inquiry for artists and designers.

As internet catalogues replace the need for large in-house sample inventories, there is a growing demand for materials libraries all across the country in the fields of design, architecture, and construction. The Materials Collection housed at MECA&D serves as an interdisciplinary, educational resource for patrons exploring new and innovative physical materials in their work.

“Collections of sample materials and products provide a tactile means for artists and designers to explore and consider options for little-known and hard-to-find items, opening up new possibilities for their work,” explains Shiva Darbandi, director of the Joanne Waxman Library at Maine College of Art & Design. “We are thrilled to open the first one here in Maine for our community to explore.”

The library currently offers over 2,000 items donated by more than 70 individuals and companies. Materials contained range from traditional (e.g., canvas and paper samples) to innovative (e.g., aerogel, the lightest material in the world).

“Ranging from newly engineered objects to everyday items reconsidered, the Materials Collection serves to increase material literacy by providing an opportunity for artists to physically manipulate little-known, hard-to-find, and sustainable materials,” Darbandi said.

The collection is organized by six groups (Naturals, Polymers, Metals, Minerals, Ceramics, and Textiles) as well as being sorted by composition, form, properties, process, and application. Throughout the collection, suggestions are made to help students identify which materials best lend themselves to particular BFA majors.

Students, faculty and staff for the College are free to view, explore, and touch the materials in the library. At this time, Joanne Waxman Library is not lending materials. You can access an online catalog of the collection at

Individuals interested in more information or donating items are encouraged to contact the library at [email protected] or 207-775-5153.

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William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.