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Posted on: January 11, 2018

Minot Public Library awarded grant for 3D printer

The Minot Public Library was awarded a $4,300 Community Grant from Best Buy to bring 3D printing to library patrons. The grant will pay for a 3D printer, a scanner, a laptop computer, and training for staff members and members of the community.

Library Director Janet Anderson said the library staff is looking forward to learning more about this technology and seeing the imaginative projects patrons will design. 3D printing allows makers to turn concepts into physical objects.

“3D printing allows makers to solve problems, whether the maker creates the print design, improves another maker’s ideas or just prints out a design they found to resolve an issue,” said Pam Carswell, the MPL Librarian who wrote the Best Buy grant. “With 3D printing, makers can avoid the costs associated with conventional methods of production.”

The library will host its first 3D printer program for teens on March 13 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Makerspace. At this program, teens will create their own keychain fob. However, once the 3D printer is up and running anyone will be able to use it whenever it is available.

Users can bring their own design or borrow other designs from sites like Thingiverse. Examples of items people can print on the 3D printer include cord guards to help your phone or tablet cords last longer, vases, game pieces, figurines, equipment parts and much more. Users can print the design as found online or they can tinker with the design and experiment until it meets their needs.

Carswell explained that 3D printing creates less waste as only the amount of plastic needed to shape the object is used, rather than carving out the object from a block of raw materials. Prototyping an idea is now much less expensive and you can feel free to experiment and correct your idea until it is fully effective. Designs can be produced much more efficiently and tested out for their purposes at low cost. 

The purpose of the Best Buy Community Grant is to provide youth with access to new technologies and help them develop skills to better prepare them for future education and career success. The Minot Public Library has established relationships with many area youth, and they have repeatedly asked about 3D printing. Many of the youth participants struggle with accessibility, including those in foster homes and those with cognitive disabilities. The Minot Public Library believes that 3D printing will allow staff to continue supporting the development of young patrons while allowing them to enjoy a fun and social atmosphere.

There are many reasons why 3D printing important in the library.

  • North Dakotans like to be self-sufficient and find and create solutions to challenges.
  • Minot youth need new technology skills to succeed in these changing times as industries such as oil, military, and agriculture have become increasingly technically advanced and youth must be ready to meet those industries’ needs.
  • Minot is a rural micropolitan area with agricultural, mineral, military and service roots, but 32% of Minot Public Schools students qualify for free or reduced lunch, which means that about a third of families in Minot are struggling financially.
  • Libraries have always been on the cutting edge of technology and are here to provide support to future engineers, scientists and artists.

“Throughout the Minot Public Library’s history, staff members have endeavored to provide the Minot community with the information and technology access required to meet the challenges of a changing world. From books on tape to programmable single-board computers, MPL continues to provide resources to connect, enrich and inspire the community,” said Anderson. “With 3D printing, the library is once again providing the information and access to technology to further patrons’ abilities to find and design solutions. 3D printing allows more people to make things they need and to further their technology expertise in order to hopefully give back to our community.”

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