Three-dimensional objects

Many libraries, both academic and public, have 3D printers. While initially serving as novel technology displays or potential hobbyist and learning tools, there is another potential avenue of 3D printer usage that has yet to be examined. This avenue lies in the challenge all 3D printers face. The ability to design 3D objects is a large barrier to entry for many potential users. While there is the possibility to download objects from open databases, those objects are already designed to certain specifications and they may not meet an academic need. Since the barrier for entry is relatively high, universities and libraries have an opportunity to help potential users of the technology gain access. One way is to hire 3D-object designers. Academic libraries and public libraries have the ability to tap existing talent to design objects for use my patrons whether in the classroom or for other needs. If the library is going to play a role in the design of such objects, they also have an obligation to provide access to these objects for other patrons to use. In much the same way that libraries have played a role in preserving and providing access to other resources, preserving and providing access to 3D objects is also a potential library activity. One way a library can do this is to take away the barrier of design. For example, academic libraries have access to a wealth of talent in the form of student assistants, many of whom practice 3D design as part of coursework or a hobby. Hiring just one student can afford the library the ability to create and deploy 3D objects to helping variety of ways. Whether it is replacing items that are damaged like anatomy models, or ideally, it could be for faculty and other instructors to use for teaching in the classroom. This is how libraries can bring access to new resources. The creation and design of 3D objects by libraries for use by faculty to enhance the classroom experience. If a library is going to take the time to design and provide access to such items then the ability to share them is also a possibility. This introduces the potential for a new type of resource sharing: the resource sharing of 3D objects. Now, some may argue that there are free and open source communities dedicated for this, but there are very few that are focused on designing objects that can serve an academic need. While many universities and public schools have 3D printers within the library, very few are deploying them to help aide in the classroom. If included with that was larger access to other larger academic-based object repositories it would be very simple to set up a mechanism that would allow these objects to be shared via resource-sharing mechanisms. eBooks and 3D objects are just two examples of new types of resources patrons will be expecting in the years to come. Resource-sharing units need to be ready to handle the new type of patron expectations. To address this there is also a need for new types of logistical tracking as well.

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