Libraries and 3D Printing

3D Printing is increasingly becoming part of everyday technology. In the not-so-distant future 3D printers may be a common site both in the workplace and at home.

At the same time, libraries have always embraced new technology - helping communities make the most of the latest advances and equipment. From mircofilm to the internet, people have been discovering new skills and enhancing their digital knowledge at libraries for decades. 

3D Printers in Scottish Public Libraries

In 2016 the Scottish Library and Information Council ensured every public library service in Scotland received both 3D printing technology and training. Now every Public Library Service in Scotland has a 3D printer, opening up a whole new world of creativity and digital learning in public libraries.

The expansion and development of 3D printing in our libraries supports many of the recommendations made in Ambition & Opportunity, Scotland’s first national strategy for public libraries. In particular, it encourages digital inclusion and the implementation of a learning and development programme for all library staff. 

How it Happened

In late 2015 SLIC made a successful bid to the Scottish Government’s Digital Participation Programme to introduce 3D printing in public libraries. Although a few library services were already offering 3D printing facilities, the additional funding meant every library service in Scotland would be able offer the same services. Those who had already introduced 3D printing were able develop their services further through the addition of more resources and training. 

The £76,000 fund allowed us to equip Scotland’s Library Services with state-of-the-art 3D printers and specialist equipment as well as develop a series of staff training events throughout the country.

3D Printing Training

After testing by library staff, the Cel Robox printer was chosen as the ideal model to be distributed throughout Scottish Public Library Services. Highly portable and easy to use it also complemented the existing models already available in some of Scotland’s public libraries.

Providing the same equipment package also meant our training could be printer specific. Four sessions we arranged by hardwear suppliers CREAT3D in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.  

Covering everything from basic terminology to printer software and practical scanning the one-day course equipped selected staff from every library service in Scotland with the skills needed to operate their 3D Printer.

3D Printing Champions

Every Public Library Service in Scotland now has a 3D Champion who helps to implement, promote and support 3D printing in their area. As well as advocating the use of 3D printers, the 32 champions also develop bespoke projects within their local communities.  

The Future of 3D

By making 3D Printing readily available in Scotland’s public libraries SLIC is encouraging communities to see the library as both a social and creative space.

It is where you can learn about the latest technology and experience it first-hand, with the help of trained and helpful staff.

If you would like to learn more about SLIC’s 3D Printing Project, you can download a copy of our 3D Printing in Scottish Public Library Report which was published in August 2016.