Public libraries throughout the county are learning the benefits to 3-D Printing

By Nancy Vigran Reporter for the Sun-Gazette

TULARE COUNTY – Tulareans have enjoyed the experience of watching a 3-D printer in action during the past few weeks. It’s owned by the San Joaquin Valley Library System (SJVLS) and has been on loan to the Tulare Public Library.

The purpose has been to share the technology with library users, and to further grasp its usefulness in education and with the local business community, said Heidi Clark, library manager.

The SJVLS actually has two 3-D printers available to its member libraries. With eight member library districts and two independent city libraries, there has been a lot of demand. Tulare Public Library is considering purchasing its own. The Tulare County Library (TCL) already has.

Similar to the printer loaned through SJVLS, the TCL system loans its 3-D printer out to its various branches. It’s currently in Visalia where a staff member is learning, more in depth, the ins and outs of using it, said Jonathan Waltmire, librarian and public information officer for the TCL. Various branches have already utilized it in a variety of programs including Woodlake.

It will soon pay a visit to Exeter as part of that branches’ technology development offerings. To utilize a 3-D printer one must learn some coding and technology programing. This can start at an early age.

“The Exeter Branch Library was selected as one of 10 libraries by the California State Library to participate in ‘Developing MakerSpaces in Libraries throughout California,’” Waltmire said.

“These programs are made possible by partnership and support of the California State Library and the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum.  Eventually, the library will add virtual reality and 3-D printing to its Makerspace programs.”

Exeter is launching its program with two MakerSpace science programs.

On Friday, Jan. 25, children 7 and up can participate in “MakerSpace: Modular Cubelets, Ozobots and Scribble Bots,” where they will experience the different mechanical stations including cubes, when put together create robots that scoot, spin and react to the world around them, some through block-based coding. During the program, children can create their own special scribble bot called a Frankenbot. The program is from 4-5 p.m.

On Friday, Feb. 8, children 7-10 will experience Dash Robotics. Here they will learn to make Dash, the robot, move, dance, and light up through block-based coding. Pre-registration is underway and ends Friday, Feb. 7 for the Dash program, which is limited to 10 participants. The program is also from 4-5 p.m.

“We’ve had people call and ask for robotics,” said Veronica Casanova, Exeter’s librarian. “It’s very popular with kids,” which is what led to the Exeter branch applying for “Developing MakerSpaces in Libraries.”

Later in the year, in spring or early summer, the Exeter branch hopes to offer a program in virtual reality and 3-D printing at which time the TCL printer will be sent here, Casanova said.

Tulare is looking to bring back the SJVLS printer in early summer, Clark said, at which time the Tulare Public Library will take even a closer look at purchasing its own. Renting a high end printer like SJVLS’s currently costs about $1,500. Filaments used in the printing process cost $20-$30 per spool.

“We want to learn how the equipment could be used and what it would bring to the community,” Clark said.

It may be that local businesses will also have an interest in it.

In the meantime, anyone young or old can experience MakerSpaces and other coding programs on their own computers or at the library.

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