Seeing a Service in 3D – implementing a 3D printing service in the University of Queensland Library
The University of Queensland Library, like all libraries, is evolving. As part of this evolution the Library is always looking for new opportunities to expand its services and diversify. Just such an opportunity was realised in the form of a 3D printing service to be made available to all Library patrons. A project to investigate and implement a service to encourage participatory learning, cross-disciplinary collaboration and potentially promote community engagement was initiated in 2013.
3D printers were not new to the University campus with this facility being available but with restricted access. By locating a 3D printer in the Library, all staff and students of the University had the chance to avail themselves of this emerging technology. It was just another example in libraries of, technology shaping services for patrons and presenting new dimensions for Library staff members. Investigations found whilst some public libraries had taken up this service few, if any, university libraries had yet to do so, often leaving it to independent printing services.
The project team evaluated 3D services already in place and how these might need to be modified, adapted and added to for the academic library environment. Decisions were made, equipment was purchased and the implementation process began in earnest.
Library staff was introduced to the technology via in-house information sessions. They were encouraged to upskill and expand their roles through training and hands-on operation and to share their experiences and knowledge. Recommendations from the project included: purchase of complementary peripheral equipment, induction workshops and a cabinet for public display of the printer. The service is finding its place and early indications would suggest the time and effort to implement this service were certainly worth it.
Ormond Oxenham is a Client Services Officer and the team leader for the Ask I.T. service at the University of Queensland Library. Ormond’s background in IT and libraries as well as a love of “gadgets” support his desire to connect people with technology.
Suzanne Macrow is a Client Services Officer at the University of Queensland Library and has been working in academic libraries for 38 years. During this time she has seen many changes, is adapting well, enjoying the challenges and looks forward to future developments.
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