Friday, June 29, 2012

3D Printers, Hackerspaces & Libraries

Hackers? Hackerspaces?

When I first learned about Hackerspaces on CBC: Spark, I'll admit I was confused. When we hear of hackers in the media it's usually in reference to criminals who break into networks and access personal information, resulting in a mad dash to change all your passwords... again. Hackerspaces (also called makerspaces or fab labs) refer to meeting and making spaces where engineers, artists, computer programmers, diy-ers come together to create. Now librarians are joining their ranks and bringing hackerspaces into libraries.

What exactly is a 3D printer?

Like a computer printer, a 3D printer takes directions from your computer and prints out according to those instructions. Only, instead of ink on paper it prints in plastic, silicon, even frosting! The MakerBot is a small household 3D printer that builds objects in layers. People are using the MakerBot to make everyday objects like shower hooks, toys, puzzles and replacement parts.

So where are these library hackerspaces?

The Fayetteville Free Library, in Fayetteville New York, has opened the FFL Fab Lab where they offer diverse DIY programming ranging from creative writing, book making, 3D printing and have free access to 3D printing technology.

Killam Library at Dalhousie University, has recently acquired a MakerBot 3D printer that users can access for the affordable price of $1/hr. Students and faculty are creating an open access repository of 3D models. Instructions on the use of the printer are available on the library website.

What do you think of hackerspaces and fab labs? Do you think access to 3D printers is the next big thing for public libraries?

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