High-Tech at the Library
By Megan Egbert and Morgan Gariepy
Since 2012, more than twenty libraries around Idaho have participated in the state’s “Make It at the Library” program, which has been lauded as a novel approach to supporting innovation by establishing “makerspaces” for patrons. Encouraging the use of new technologies and tools, the program teaches project-based skills that are experimental and creative. Following are two tales told by library employees of what’s going on out there.
Meridian: From Idea to 3D Reality
“Can we help this student out?” The text immediately caught my eye as I scanned my email late one night on my phone. It was from my director, but it didn’t concern a standard request we receive from Meridian Library District patrons for assistance with 3D printing. Since 2013, the library has utilized 3D printing through programs, classes, and one-on-one assistance. We have helped everyone from senior citizens to five-year-old children with projects ranging from duck call whistles to a 3D diagram of a beetle. But I knew this project must hold urgency if my director was seeking help at 10:30 p.m., and had signed the email with “Pretty, pretty please!” And I was right.
Rhea Bagchi, an eighth-grader at a local middle school, desperately needed help. Participating in a year-long program dedicated to entrepreneurship called Young Entrepreneurs Academy, she had an idea for a product to pitch to an investor’s panel, and she thought 3D printing might be able to produce the prototype she had in mind. With only a few weeks before the prototype had to be ready, Rhea was pressing to get started. Luckily, her connection at the Meridian Chamber of Commerce knew about the 3D printing offered at the library and sent her our way.
My answer to the late-night email was the same answer we continued to give Rhea in the weeks to follow, and it’s the answer we hope to give many more aspiring entrepreneurs: Yes, we can fit you in. And yes, the library can help. This was exactly the type of project we wanted to assist with when we joined Idaho’s “Make It at the Library” program.