Lovejoy Library - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Pryor writes about the implementation of a 3D printing service at Southern Illinois University.
In his literature review, Pryor points out that much of what has been published describes programs at public libraries, although it is definitely a trending topic.He sites the University of Nevada Reno, as being likely the first institution to implement and offer the service to its students and faculty members. Pryor argues that by locating the service in the library, the tools are provided for all disciplines and the potential is created for cross-discipline collaboration and learning, and this is more beneficial than placing the tools within a specific department or faculty.
Before describing the situation at his institution, he refers to several other service models that have employed at other academic institution, in the implementation of 3D printing services.
For example, the University of Alabama created a studio space with specialized software and training and workshops on how to use the tools, empowering the students. The service was provided free of charge throughout the pilot phase. Dalhousie University Libraries on the other hand, manages 3D printing as a mediated service rather than a hands on experience.
Pryor’s justification for locating the services within the library is as follows:
Libraries provide, and have historically provided, resources for not only consuming but also for generating new information and research, and thus the inclusion of 3D printing which is used to generate new research, in theory, is nothing new.
3D printing is a technology that is useful not only for STEM but also for humanities, for example, visualizing geographical data, replication of historical artifacts, real world multidisciplinary uses of the technology can resonate with our faculty and students, and thus should be located in an area on campus that is interdisciplinary.
Pryor’s article is very useful because it goes through the steps necessary fo implementation of a 3D printing service, which could be extended to other services that a makerspace might offer. It offers tips on:
Deciding on what equipment, model type, etc., to purchase
Workflow in terms of very long printing times to consider for items
How to work around the training process for students in order to allow them to create their own projects (in the case of this particular library, it was determined that staff would be responsible for formatting files as the print queues were too long, which in fact has slightly taken away from the students’ “maker” experience.
The article also recommends useful policies and procedures that similar institutions may want to consider when implementing similar services:
Library staff created a libguide with instructions on how to make a digital model that can be submitted for printing. The libguide can be found here: http://libguides.siue.edu/friendly.php?s=3d
It may be appropriate to have technicians assist with the creation of stl files without assisting in the design process in any way.
Requests could be processed through file uploads and emails sent to a specific address, and models are subject to approval based on scheduling and availability.
In his evaluation of the experience of implementing 3D printing service at Southern Illinois University Library, Pryor states that in the first year of the service, the library displayed the printer in prominent place, and verbally promoted the service to specific groups on campus. Although the libguide that was created containing information regarding the service got a lot of traffic, but did not actually generate many requests. In the first year, there were 117 requests in first year but only 30 separate users, and the author feels that the primary reason for this was that many users do not know how to create a 3D model using the required software. As part of the solution, the author recommends using a website like Makerbots (https://www.thingiverse.com/) which provides digital designs for physical objects specifically for 3D printing. In the future, the library hopes to provide software within the library and teaching workshops for 3D modeling. The author also states that another major hurdle that might have to be faced is that many students may not see how the 3D printing will help their scholarship or be used in research, and thus outreach to various departments must therefore be quite active.
In their article, 3D Printers in the Library: Toward a Fablab in the Academic Library, published on the ACRL TechConnect Blog, Kurt and Colgrove describe the process of implementing 3D printers and scanners in the DeLaMare Science and Engineering library. The authors describe 3D printers as an additive manufacturing technology, where there is the laying down of successive layers of material that adhere to one another, creating a three-dimensional output.
Like Pryor, the author argue that although it may not initially seem intuitive to provide access to 3D printers in academic libraries, the authors argue that academic libraries are in the business of knowledge creation, and “rapid prototyping represents the kernel activity of knowledge creation through action. Having access to this kind of equipment can allow students to produce tangible models of theoretical constructs, give them the ability to go from a two-dimensional model on a computer screen to a real-world object that can be handled. This can accelerate knowledge creation and innovation.
The authors do a great job in emphasizing what stakeholders and administrators need to know about the value 3D printers and hackerspaces can provide, and why the library is the prime location. They make the argument that it is commonplace for libraries today to have:
copy machines, including scanners with email
desktop computers, laptops, tablets
laser printers and scanners
audio and video production
editing equipment and staff
large format (poster) printers and scanner
So, 3D printers and scanners, are actually a good fit.
Additionally, the authors point out that having such technology creates big potential to:
strategically deploy technology to enable knowledge creation across departmental boundaries
build an environment that nurtures creativity while stimulating and supporting learning and innovation in an interdisciplinary way.
They also argue that individual departments are not positioned in the same way to provide this type of interdisciplinary environment, because all disciplines make use of the library, as the library is by nature an interdisciplinary hub.
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