Libraries are continuing to embrace the maker movement. Through their makerspaces, they are providing many members of their communities access to tools and knowledge that will enable them to thrive and become successful in the future.
In this growing potential of libraries to make such positive change in the lives of their patrons, we see another opportunity where libraries can go beyond the promotion of learning and extend their service to the rest of their communities – by making “making” a social action.
Background Image by Lukas Boxberger (send by the author) [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
In her article entitled "How to Inspire Students to be Compassionate Makers" from Ideas & Inspiration from Demco, author and Library Media Specialist Gina Seymour talks about how they have utilized their library makerspace at Islip High School in New York to create a community-service-based program, and encourage students to do good to others. By practicing creative thinking and applying it to real-world situations, Seymour shares that they are enabling their students “to not only be the change but to also make the change they wish to see.”
This story prompted us to look for 3D printing projects that other library makerspaces can use as guides or inspirations to create an environment of making and helping. Some are based on our customer stories and some were found on online 3D model repositories such as Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory.
(Note: If you are borrowing a design, remember to check its licensing to avoid any copyright infringement.)
3D Printing Tactile Models for the Blind
One of the useful applications for 3D printing is in education. Through collaboration, librarians and patrons can conduct a project that aims to support the accessibility to education and other information materials of people who have visual impairment. For example, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a non-profit organization in San Francisco and a customer of Type A Machines, created a Media Accessible Design Lab where they develop various materials such as tactile maps, models of human parts, and worm exoskeletons to meet the needs of blind people.
3D Printing Assistive Devices
Similar to educational materials for the blind, another project that a library makerspace can do is 3D printing assistive devices for people with motor impairments. Depending on the 3D design and printing expertise of librarians and participating patrons, the project can range from 3D printing simple devices such as grips and clips to more complicated ones such as prosthetic hands.
For example, this Ring Write/Painter clip assistant device by Ion Gurguta from Thingiverse was designed to assist people who have gripping problems or arthritis.
Another example is the paper cup holder for hand support by Luca Parmegiani from MyMiniFactory.
Libraries can also promote awareness or positive actions in the community through 3D printing. For instance, MyMiniFactory has an upcycling category where you can have access to different designs that will allow you to bring new functionality to objects that might have otherwise been discarded. Through this, libraries can not only teach students and patrons on how to look for innovative ways to solve problems in the community, but they can also enable them to spread the message and create a wider impact.
These are just a few examples of what you can do for your 3D printing service projects. By making the most out of the technologies at hand and facilitating collaboration, your library makerspaces can not only help patrons learn new things and develop their individual skill sets, you will also get to champion community building and address other needs of your community.
Do you have other ideas for 3D printing or makerspace projects for your library? Share them with us in the comments below.