The Monroe County Public Library now owns an Original Prusa i3 MK3S, otherwise known as a 3D printer. Photo by Nicole McPheeters


Libraries are generally known for housing books, and while the Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) does that, its Level Up Digital Creativity Center, located on the first floor of the Main Library on East Kirkwood, also houses an abundance of digital resources. These include a video production studio, two audio production studios, and four digital creativity workstations. Recently added to the mix is a new 3D printer. 

3D printing is the process of making a three-dimensional solid object from a digital file. Funds for the printer, an Original Prusa i3 MK3S, came from a portion of the Friends of the Library’s annual donation for digital creativity. 

“The Monroe County Public Library supports not just reading, but 21st-century literacy skills and lifelong learning,” says Kevin MacDowell, MCPL teen and digital creativity strategist. “This is why we make 3D printing available to the public. It is also why we provide programs and services in virtual reality and many other types of digital creativity/digital media production.”

To make 3D objects with the printer, library patrons must first understand the printer’s software. Anyone interested in learning how to use the programs may register to attend the library’s free 3D printing workshops, which vary according to audience age and interest. For example, there is an adult workshop on how to print coat hooks. Another workshop, geared towards teens, details how to print backpack charms. 

 “We’ve had a teen who rescues birds who printed a small-scale basketball hoop that hooks to a birdcage for a bird to play with,” MacDowell says. “And we have many teens and adults print out Dungeons & Dragons character miniatures.”

Library patrons can drop off their digital design files on public Drop-Off 3D Days, scheduled once a month and listed in the library’s program guide and on the website calendar. “The library’s 3D printer is actually only run by library staff and interns,” MacDowell says. “There is no cost for attending these programs or the printed objects.”

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