I haven't posted in this blog in quite a while. In fact, I don't it has been since 2011, when I received my MLS. For a while there for all intents and purposes I was DONE. Done writing about technology, humanities, and especially library science. I found work, started doing said work, and enjoyed it.
However, it occured to me this morning that I have rather a lot to say. HASTAC provides an ideal platform, and I'd love to share some news and thoughts, and collect some input from my fellows. So, back into the breach.
In 2012, I started my position as a System Support Technician for the Durham County Libraries. It's an interesting and varied position. Sometimes I'm out installing printers, resetting passwords, answering my phone and asking "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" And sometimes I'm afforded exciting opportunities. I'm a NextReads editor, for example. I helped organize last year's Durham Comics Fest and am again helping with Comics Fest 2014. And I'm helping to set up a new MakerSpace for the public library.
We've already had a couple of small programs, allowing teens to come in and get a crash course in computer-assisted design. Our local hackerspace SplatSpace volunteered to provide the training. Then, after forty minutes of playing around, we let them submit 3D designs that we printed out for them. The most impressive was a penguin, wholly improvised by a 13 year old girl with no design experience. She just silently watched as the other teens put together their nametags and pentacle necklaces (they kinda fell apart-- it's hard to get good sharp points on the stars and keep them joined to the outer ring) on the screen, and then she dragged the shapes down, joining them and doing some freehand shaping until she had a beautifully rounded 3D aquabird.
We saved that design. We'll ask before we use it, but no way are we letting such a thing of casual beauty disappear.
We're training the library staff on 3D printing for the next couple Fridays; I'm practicing by printing out some samples for the staff to see, starting with some very simple designs. I've never soloed on this stuff before, so it's kind of exciting. I've already found that there's a learning curve on loading the filament. Also worth noting: 3D printing is hardly instantaneous. The 2"by 2" box I'm currently printing is set to take around an hour and a half to complete. If you're doing any printing of your own, plan accordingly.
The samples I mentioned are also going to be put to good use afterwards. My friend, Adult Services Librarian John Davis, has started a monthly "D&D in the Library" program which finished its first year in July to great acclaim. He's asked us to print out some set pieces for him. Just between you and me (and him if he reads this) I'm going to surprise him with a dragon figurine. Instead of doing a lot of difficult redesigning I'm using an existing model downloaded from Thingiverse and welding it onto a base (a modified poker chip design) with a 3Doodler pen.
At this point, we've gotten to work with:
Our Makerbot Replicator (3D printer)
The 3Doodler 3D pen (we have these for the Teen Librarians at each location so they can create programs)
Cameo Silhouette (paper, cloth, and vinyl cutter-- I made a Riddler decal for my car; my friend Bryan took on a much more difficult Homer Simpson head which turned out beautifully.)
Arduino open-source hardware kits.
We own, but do not yet have running:
A Shapeoko, computer-assisted 3D milling and carving machine.
We plan to have our first open-to-the-public Maker Day on Saturday, September 27*. We'll be letting people create their own designs and printing them out at a cost of $0.25 a gram**. This is in downtown Durham, serving a diverse population that includes a lot of economically disadvantaged folks. People who don't often get experience with this kind of technology. I like to think that this makes the new MakerSpace more valuable, a unique resource that wasn't there before. Now just to get people to use it!
I'll let you know how it goes and-- when my phone's not dead-- include a few photos as well!
* Originally, this post read "in 3 weeks." I had misheard the date.
** Originally, this post listed the price as $0.25 an oz. Ounces are about 28 times larger than grams, so this is a pretty big difference.