ABC3D is an exploratory project seeking to design and prototype a dozen workshops on 3D printing in libraries, based on the living labs model.
At the conclusion of the project, a detailed guide for each workshop will be shared online, and bundled into a PDF, so that any libraries, be they in Quebec or elsewhere in the world, may be inspired and facilitate their own workshops.
Context - Why 3D printing in the library?
- Libraries are evolving into third spaces and including a greater diversity of activities. They are not longer just book archives. Instead, libraries are spaces which provide access to a wider spectrum of activites and cultural content.
- The concept HOMAGO (Hanging Out / Mess Around / Geek Out) is increasingly popular, notably among youth.
- Many libraries, particularly in Canada (Toronto, Calgary, New Brunswick, ...), have acquird 3D printers and begun mediating activities with these machines. More than 250 libraries in the United States have a 3D printer.
- Given their extended opening hours, libraries are ideal spaces for hosting this equipment. Also, access is often free and materials are typically provided at cost.
- 3D technology is becoming increasingly democratized. The available machines are getting smaller, significantly cheaper and much easier to use. It's a phenomen which some call the 3rd Industrial Revolution. Previously a technological process available only to the manufacturing industry and large corporations, 3D printers are now scattered in people's homes.
- Spaces which are granting access to these machines (fablabs, makerspaces, techshops, etc.) are increasingly popular and spreading in Québec.
- It is still early days for truly understanding the educational and social potential of 3D printing. It can serve as an entry point for a variety of complex topics: manufacturing, modeling, math, coding, mechanics, robotics, thermodynamics, etc. Also, there are more and more tools specific to varied industries (architecture, health, fasion, etc.).
- More generally, it serves as a means for digital literacy (understanding, awareness and skills permitting the use of digital tools), which is more necessary than ever for the public at large.
- Among the libraries which are equipped with 3D printers, the workshops proposed to the public are at an introductory level. 3D printing is a craze. Most available workshops, however, are just introductory or discovery learning and 3D printing on demand. As 3D printers are increasingly democratized, our project will renew and enrich the available experiences in Bibliolabs.
- Despite their spread, the Fablabs and makerspaces often struggle to reach the public at large. Often they are dominated by an already well-informed public.
We thus believe that it is necessary to explore the potential of 3D printing in libraries in a way which is experimental and open, in order to develop ideal practices, and to democratize use and access.
This project is taking place in partnership with the network of libraries of Montreal.
It contributes the program the Montreal Smart City and to the program Quartiers culturels durables.