So what makes the MakerBot so amazing? The relative inexpensive nature of the 3D printer has made it ideal for makerspaces, which have long been a discussion of the library world (see here, here, and here). Plus, it’s easy to use and has simple, open source software. Perfect for the public and a key component of library makerspaces. I can’t wait for my library to get its own!
What’s the connection between libraries and makerbots? The IMLS said it best:
There is an explosion of interest among museums and libraries in “making” environments. In response to changing public expectations and the changing civic and educational roles (and potential) of museums and libraries, these institutions are leveraging their resources, collections, and public trust to strengthen community- based learning, particularly for critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and engagement in STEM. Makerspaces allow visitors a place to pursue their own interests in building things (physical or virtual) and to collaborate and share with one another.
Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services, “Talking Points: Museums, Libraries, and Makerspaces,” http://www.imls.gov/assets/1/AssetManager/Makerspaces.pdf.
So, why hasn’t every library gotten a makerbot? Thankfully some libraries have taken the plunge and embraced the technology (including one in Georgia – way to go, Gwinnett County!) but some libraries are still hesitant. The cost (even as low as it is) can be a huge drawback in cash-strapped libraries, and perhaps a bigger issue is the reluctance of staff to take on yet another new, technology-based project. Change can be hard, and with a profession that is already slow to change, the makerbot may have to wait another few years before having a presence in every library.