Case Study: Long Beach Public Library — Meeting Information Needs
| by MakerBot
About Long Beach Public Library
The Long Beach Public Library serves Long Beach, California, a port city 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles with a median household income of $52,900. With a 135,000-square-foot main library next to city hall and 11 branches, the Long Beach Public Library tries to meet the information needs of the city’s culturally diverse population of 469,428.
Like many library systems, the Long Beach Public Library once mainly lent books, but the digital revolution has broadened Americans’ information needs. Providing free and equal access to information now means fostering digital literacy and giving residents access to the latest technology. “We’re trying to get people back to work, to develop the skills they need in the 21st century,” says Francisco Vargas, youth services officer for the Long Beach Public Library.
In order to bring in new patrons, libraries need to change the perception of their missions and offerings. “The library was not thought of as a space for art and innovation,” says Vargas.
So Long Beach Public Library created the studio, a makerspace at the Main Library with technology ranging from building blocks to e-readers. “Anyone in Long Beach, it’s going to be accessible to them, just with a library card — and that’s free,” says Glenda Williams, director of library services. To outfit and operate the makerspace, the library received $75,000 in foundation grants.The Solution
With a small portion of this grant, the Long Beach Public Library purchased a MakerBot Replicator® 2 Desktop 3D Printer (“it’s actually cheaper than a photocopier,” says Vargas), a MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner, and several spools of MakerBot PLA Filament. 3D printing is a central feature of the makerspace, and the library chose MakerBot products for their ease of use.
Library patrons can 3D print for free, and twice-a-week classes offer training in 3D modeling software and MakerBot Desktop. Since the makerspace opened in April, library patrons have printed more than 80 objects, from smartphone cases to a robotic arm made by a high school junior, and the MakerBot Replicator 2 has logged more than 500 hours. “The thing about 3D printers is that you can make your dreams a reality,” says Vargas.
The people coming into the Long Beach Public Library’s makerspace “are not your typical library patrons,” says Vargas. “We’ve reached a new segment of the population.” Due to the popularity of 3D printing and other activities, the Long Beach Public Library has secured funding for the makerspace for the next fiscal year, and is thinking about how to bring 3D printing to the other branches. Visitors from other library systems have used the studio as a model for their own makerspaces.
MakerBot, a subsidiary of Stratasys Ltd. (Nasdaq: SSYS), is leading the Next Industrial Revolution by setting the standards in reliable and affordable desktop 3D printing. Founded in 2009, MakerBot sells desktop 3D printers to innovative and industry-leading customers worldwide, including engineers, architects, designers, educators, and consumers.
MakerBot has been honored with many accolades, including Popular Mechanics’ “Overall Winner” for best 3D printer, Time’s “Best Inventions of 2012,” Popular Mechanics’ “Editor’s Choice Award,” Popular Science’s “Product of the Year,” and Fast Company’s “One of the World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Consumer Electronics.”
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