Libraries Were Once For Books – In 2014 3D Printers May Become Their Main Attractions

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chicago_public_libraryOnly 20 years ago, if you needed to research something, you would hop in your car and drive to the local library.  Libraries were the main source of knowledge, whether you needed to do a research paper for school, find out how to fix your TV, or catch up on the latest fashion trends.  Today, the internet has pretty much replaced the need for these frequent library visits.  However, libraries across the US, and around the world are starting to find other ways to attract visitors.

3D Printing, might just be that one thing that revives libraries for at least another decade.  Just as recent as a year ago, most people didn’t know or didn’t care what 3D printing was.  Now, it’s catching on like a wild fire, that many libraries are dying to throw their old books at.

Here are just a few examples of how libraries in the United States have been utilizing 3D printing:

– In January and February of this year, the Cleveland Public Library will be holding classes teaching participants the basics of 3D printing.  In addition to this, the library also allows visitors to bring their .STL files (design files) to the libary, have them reviewed and then printed out.  They even go one step farther and allow people to email their designs in, rather than visiting the library.

– The Westport Library in Westport, CT has similar classes that are open on a daily basis.  They utilize 3 MakerBot printers, and also allow visitors to use these printers for 2 hours at a time, after taking the free class.  Use of a printer is free, as long as you are a Westport resident.  If you are not a resident there is a $10/hour fee for the class, and a $20/hour fee to use a printer.

Here is a brief tour of their 3D Printing lab, and some of the things that they have printed:

– The Chicago Public Library opened its MakerLab this past July at the Harold Washington Library branch.  It’s free to use the 3D printers, although makers must pay for the materials used for their creations.   On top of this, several teachers have already reserved the lab for their classes.

Librarian John Christensen is very fond of the new MakerLab.  He explained,

To me this is akin to the way we viewed personal computers.  If you remember, at first it was a hobbyist thing, which (3-D printing) definitely is right now. Then eventually there was desktop publishing, which is now so familiar no one even calls it that anymore. But it has to start somewhere.

– In Northbrook, Illinois, the Northbrook Public Library has recently used their State Technology Grant to purchase a MakerBot Replicator 2 printer.  The public is allowed to print out their designs using the printer, although lines to use it are starting to get longer.

– The Sacramento Public Library, also allows visitors to use their 3D Printers totally free of charge, as long as participants aren’t abusing their privileges, thanks to a grant from the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

It’s not just the United States where local libraries are catching the ‘3D printing bug’.  In Canada, the Toronto Public Library, has announced that they will be opening their 3D printing lab starting on February 4.  The fee to use a printer is very minimal.  Each minute up to the two-hour time limit costs 5 cents, with a base fee of $1.  As an example, an iPhone case which takes about 90 minutes to print would cost around $5.50.

There are literally dozens upon dozens of libraries across the US and around the world that are starting to bring 3D printing into their establishments.  Before long, it should be expected that just about all libraries will be a common ground for 3D printing.

Discuss this article, and tell us if you have had a chance to check out a 3D Printer in a local library at: http://3dprintboard.com/showthread.php?1535-Libraries-are-going-the-route-of-3D-Printing-And-it-s-mostly-FREE!

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