January 25, 2016

Loveland Public Library: Empowering Patrons Through 3D Printing

Whether you want to stay on the cutting edge of technology or have fun making things, Loveland Public Library, located in Loveland, Colorado, USA, has its patrons covered by offering the resource of 3D printing with LulzBot® 3D printers.

“Our mission here at the library is really to leverage community resources to offer people access to things they wouldn't otherwise be able to access and spark their interest and curiosity in directions that they might not have otherwise discovered,” Tyera Eulberg, library technology specialist at Loveland Public Library, said. “Having a [LulzBot] 3D printer here has met both of those needs very nicely.”

LulzBot MiniLoveland Public Library, which is a longtime user of LulzBot 3D printers, including previous LulzBot TAZ versions, currently has one LulzBot TAZ 5 and one LulzBot Mini. Due to the LulzBot Mini's ease of use, reliability, and predictability, library patrons are able to use that machine themselves when printing their 3D creations.

“When we only had one 3D printer, … patrons weren't hands on at all, so that's been a really wonderful thing that we could open up to the public is having the Mini and having that be hands on,” Eulberg said.

The LulzBot 3D printers at Loveland Public Library have drawn a variety of users. These range from children and teens printing knickknacks and practical items like phone cases, to adults prototyping items for hobbies and work.

One noteworthy project was the printing of freely licensed prosthetics for e-NABLE in which patrons chose to purchase Loveland Public Library's filament and use its LulzBot 3D printers. According to Eulberg, the printing material in general is low cost, and Loveland Public Library runs through plastic fairly quickly, which is mostly a testament to its high community engagement and frequency of printing.

Another aspect of the LulzBot 3D printers Eulberg finds appealing is the fact that they are Open Source Hardware.

“We love the Open Source model,” Eulberg said. “That's another way in which it's a great fit for a public library because we're all about information sharing.”

Eulberg also credits the culture surrounding Open Source of being made up of people who are invested in making it better, something she believes is happening in the Loveland community as a whole due to 3D printing in general.

“I think that 3D printing is really fostering the sense of … progress and opportunity in Loveland,” Eulberg said. “We're seeing [a] lot of expansion in tech jobs around here, tech companies come to town, and then at the same time that return to … tinkering and making yourself and doing things with your own hands. 3D printing is really kind of the perfect 'know point' for those two things in the community.”

To learn more about Loveland Public Library and the services it offers, visit its website.