*Below is the map located on Amanda Goodman's website showing the locations of libraries that have 3D printers: \
Many libraries are adding 3D printers as a tool and service in the library. However, putting it up in your library without programs or a plan to show your community what 3D printers can do is not the best way to go. There needs to be a plan and also an understanding on how other libraries are using them. This can be a point of frustration for those libraries that are looking at getting a 3D printer or have recently purchased one. One solution is to talk with other libraries and hear what they are doing with their 3D printers. Some libraries already took the time and effort to test different ways to bring this new service to their community. Some were successful and some were not.
In order to ask libraries how they are using 3D printers you would have to know who has them. Such a list did not exist until Amanda Goodman, user experience (UX) librarian at the Darien Public Library in Connecticut, decided to start collecting what libraries have 3D printers. She then made it available on her website for everyone to see. The map that is embedded in this post is the map Amanda created.
Take a look to see if a neighboring library is on the map that you can talk to. If you notice that your library has a 3D printer and is not on the map, send a message to add it. As more libraries are added to the map, the larger the network becomes, sharing advice, info, and ideas. There is also a new ALA LITA Interest Group on 3D printers*, where library staff from all types of libraries are discussing use cases and asking questions. The group has a mailing list open to those that are interested.
For more information on 3D printing and policies make sure you read Progress in the Making: An Introduction to 3D Printing and Public Policy report by ALA OITP, PLA, and United for Libraries.
Ryan Claringbole, Public Library Development Team
*Disclosure: Ryan Claringbole is Vice Chair of the 3D Printer Interest Group