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Friday, May 15, 2015

Step One in a Library 3D Printing Effort

How to Start a 3D Printing Program at Your Library

Brandi Scardilli | May 5, 2015

If you’re thinking about installing a 3D printer in your library, there are a lot of things to consider before you do so. You have to decide on a model, find a place to put it, and figure out whether (or how much) to charge for its use. Three library representatives share their experiences with implementing a 3D printing program at their institutions.

Sauk City Library in Wisconsin started its 3D printing program in 2012. Director Ben Miller, a former systems librarian, says that when he was hired, the library board was looking to “advance the library into the 21st century.” For Miller, one of the ways to accomplish that was to buy a 3D printer. So far, patrons have printed phone cases and characters from “Pokémon” and “Minecraft”; one person printed playing pieces for the board game Settlers of Catan; and another prints replacement parts for his electric razor when it breaks because the part he needs isn’t sold separately. “[O]ne of the things that we’re trying to focus on is being a place of creation instead of just consumption. And so the 3D printer was new enough and was sort of a big enough idea for a small town that we talked about it a lot at board meetings,” says Miller, and they decided to purchase one.

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