- 17 July 2014 by Aviva Rutkin - New Scientist
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Books out, 3D printers in for reinvented US libraries
Across the US, libraries are setting up maker labs as they turn themselves into hubs for high-tech innovation and training
IN THE small town of Fayetteville in northern New York, you'll find the local library in an old furniture factory dating from the turn of the 20th century. The refurbished building retains hints of its industrial past: wooden floors, exposed beams, walls lined with carefully labelled tools.
But instead of quietly perusing stacks of books, many of the patrons are crowded around a suite of 3D printers. One machine is midway through a pink mobile phone case; another is finishing up a toy sword.
This is Fayetteville's maker lab – and it may very well be the future of libraries.
In 2011, Fayetteville became the first public library in the US to set up a maker lab. Besides 3D printers, the space features a laser cutter, electronics kits, workshop tools, Raspberry Pi computers and an array of sewing machines. It functions somewhere between a classroom and a start-up incubator – a place where people from all over the region can get involved with state-of-the-art technology.
Since the lab opened, similar spaces have been popping up across the country, including in cities like Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Denver and Detroit. According to the American Library Association, about 1 in 6 libraries now dedicates some of its space to maker tools and activities. The New York Public Library – one of the largest in the country – is watching these developments to inform its upcoming renovation.