The printer, an Original Prusa i3 MK2, was originally purchased to put together as a program for the Build a Better World Summer Reading Program. The project hit the theme twofold: teens would build the printer, as opposed to buying a complete one, and once complete, the printer would “build” things through its 3D prints. As with the rest of the Summer Reading Program, it was funded by the Friends of Camp Verde Library, who generously granted the Children’s Library and Teen Library $1000 each to work with. Unfortunately, because the printer was backordered and shipping from the Czech Republic, it did not arrive in time for the SRP. So now I’m turning it into it’s own program. We will work on building it each Saturday from 3-5 until it is complete.
Originally the printer really fit the theme of the summer reading program, but now I think it is just a cool piece of technology that the teens can learn and grow with. We didn’t have these when I was a kid, and most people still can’t just go pick one up at the store. They can be cost prohibitive and there is a learning curve. But having one at the library takes the inaccessibility out of the equation. The rest is the learning, which is what libraries are all about. One of the first projects we’ll tackle once it is operational is making chess pieces for two boards that are currently without.
Right now, it is cool to be a geek. It no longer carries the negative stigma it once did. Everyone knows Star Wars, Star Trek, and the Marvel and DC Universes, and it is fantastic. I find that it is a great way to bring people together over common ground. Magic: The Gathering reigns supreme at the teen library’s Game Night with Zack on Thursdays, and through this card game (which promotes reading comprehension, math, strategy, and social interaction), I have kids interacting and becoming friends that ordinarily would have never crossed paths. Another program that started with SRP that I’m carrying over is Chainmaille making. Sounds nerdy right? Well, here’s why its cool: First, there is a ton of history in its use as armor in various parts of the world. Second, it can be for anyone. In addition to armor, you can make both masculine and feminine jewelry, as well as bags, hackysacks, wallet and pocket watch chains…the list goes on. Third, it seems daunting at first, but it is a skill that reinforces the idea of putting your mind to something and working to achieve a goal, which applies to many parts of life.
I didn’t have a library like CVCL growing up, so I didn’t really know what libraries could be. When I think of program ideas or resources for the teens, I research and ask a lot of questions of my coworkers, but if an idea makes me think, “man, I wish we had that when I was a kid,” then it’s probably a good idea. The 3D printer was actually originally a suggestion from out director, Kathy Hellman. But the more I researched it, the more I wished it had been around 15 years ago. I haven’t ironed out the plan for programs using the printer once it’s built, but that is definitely the next step. And I think it is important that the technology is available to the teens to learn, because one day they could be just as prevalent in homes as computers, which turned out to be much more than a passing fad.