My administrator asked me this question. “What does 3D printing have to
do with libraries?”
Of course my response at the time wasn’t completely articulated how I wanted. After reflection, this is my response.
3D printing has everything to do with libraries. The new slogan in the library world is that we are so much more than books. We are a mecca of the collective knowledge of our communities. Technology has changed the frontier. Humans used to communicate new ideas and learning in the pages of books. In this new frontier, the flood gates have opened and we stand on the cliff of a sea of thoughts, ideas, images and sound. We have to do something with this flood of information. Learners expect and demand an interactive experience . . . they want to comment, create and manipulate their understanding.
What can we do with collective skills? Put them to work! 3D printing makes our ideas reality. Physical objects we can hold. By using measurements, formulas and computer design. . .we can create physical objects. Isn’t this how new products are designed in the manufacturing and engineering world? Our students are tomorrow’s engineers, business people, computer designers, scientists, and other fields that don’t even exist yet.
So. . .yes, the library will always promote reading and the love of books. I love losing myself in a good story. Human’s need for stories and shared experiences will never cease to exist . Libraries are places of community because we house these shared treasures. But this is a new era, where we can create new stories online and share them with the world. We can write instructions for our favorite craft or recipe that others can use and create in their homes. And now, with 3D printing, we can create objects online in a community . . . and print these objects at the library!