3D printing and other tech services you didn't know the library offers

Cleveland Public Library has been at the cutting edge of library services since the late 1800’s when it became the first large, urban public library to "open the stacks" to the public. What are "open stacks," you ask?  It is the once radical idea of allowing library patrons to browse the stacks, look at books, and select for themselves what they wanted. Previously—and in many public libraries for years afterwards—patrons had to tell a librarian what book they wanted, or what subject piqued their interest, and a library employee would retrieve books for the patron. Only librarians had direct access to the books. Can you imagine if libraries still worked like this?

Fast-forward to 2017: Cleveland Public Library (CPL) continues to be an innovative leader, offering one of the largest public library collections in the United States partly due to CLEVNET, the regional consortium of over forty library systems that CPL launched in 1982. Many regions have since adopted CLEVNET's model to provide more affordable access to a greater collection of materials.

Now, Clevelanders also have access to a pioneering makerspace, which debuted to the public in 2012. The TechCentral MakerSpace, which is located in the Louis Stokes Wing of CPL’s Main Library campus downtown, is ‘a creative and collaborative design and fabrication space that allows you to turn your ideas into reality.’ Industry-standard tools and machines include a laser engraver that can cut and engrave designs into wood, leather, rubber, glass, marble, and stone as well as vinyl printer cutter machines that can be used to make banners and posters or add designs to shirts and clothing using the heat press! 

3D printing, which allows users to create objects in three dimensions using a plastic ‘ink’, is offered and only costs $0.05 per gram of plastic used. Library patrons will also find 3D printers at the Lorain Branch (8216 Lorain Avenue) and Fleet Branch (7224 Broadway Avenue) who host mini MakerSpaces for each side of town.

Professional-level software for editing graphic design, photo, and video projects is on MakerSpace computers, including Adobe Creative Suite, CorelDraw, Avid Pro Tools Express, Apple GarageBand, iMovie, and Audacity. 

If you’d like to see these tools and machines in action and learn how to use them yourself, you can attend one-hour workshops in TechCentral on Mondays throughout each month at 11:00 a.m.: Laser Engraving Basics, 3D Printing Basics, Printing and Cutting Vinyl Signs, Cutting and Pressing Vinyl T-shirt Designs. 

TechCentral staff has recently taken the show on the road with Mobile MakerLabs held at branch libraries throughout the city. The Carnegie West Branch (1900 Fulton Raod) in Ohio City was the pilot library for the Mobile MakerLab, attracting forty-five visitors to its hour-and-a-half demonstrations of laser engraving and 3D printing, with each attendee receiving a keychain made just for them. Three more labs followed, each showcasing different tools and projects featured in the MakerSpace. If you’d like to learn more about all the technological and creative services available to Cleveland Public Library card holders, please visit https://cpl.org/thelibrary/subjectscollections/techcentral/.  

Angela Guinther

By: Angela Guinther, Branch Manager of the Carnegie West Branch of Cleveland Public Library, and Forrest Lykins, TechCentral Coordinator.

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Volume 2, Issue 1, Posted 9:26 PM, 06.11.2017