19 Feb 2013

Making a case for 3-D printing technology

Author: krb3k | Filed under: breakthroughs, innovation

I admit it: I love my tech toys. It’s lucky for me, then, that the administration of my library embraces as part of its missionĀ  the purchase of new technology. We believe that our users should, at the very least, be exposed to new technology so that they have an awareness of hard- and software that will impact their studies and professional/personal lives. However, it goes beyond that. It is not uncommon for users to take one of our classes, or see a post on Facebook, or check out a piece of technology from the Library, and then approach us for help on meeting a need that they have. For me, this often means educating users about apps, hardware, and resources here in the Library andĀ  in other shops here at the University of Virginia.

For about eight months now, I’ve been interested in yearning for a 3-D printer. However, as Orcrist was to goblins, so was ye olde cost-benefit analysis to my dreams: there are other needs that the Library has and not enough money to buy everything. Sound familiar? However, as we move forward with plans to establish a Digital Creation Lab on the lower floor of the Library, my longing has returned three-fold. To me, the DCL will take the Library’s notion of showcasing new technology to a whole other level: it will serve as an exciting model for the possibilities of technology and healthcare. I would like for 3-D printing to become a part of that.

We are fortunate because the Library is centrally located both physically and in our users’ minds. Our excellent reputation for both customer service, know-how, and resources have firmly established us as a go-to partner in all manner of projects. While we certainly can’t be all things to all people, we can show them possibilities and then refer them to experts across Grounds.With regard to emerging technology, I see our Library as a wine and cheese tasting: people attend those in order to try many small samples; if they find something delicious, they know that they can return to the place where they tried it and get more of it. Our Library will most likely never be a place where 3-D print jobs are running all hours of the day, but I feel that we should definitely give our users a chance to sample it.

What’s your library’s attitude towards new technology? Does it embrace it? Or does your Library invest its money in “bread and butter” services like reference? Share in the comments!