TORONTO – The library is no longer just a place for silent study.
As part of its Digital Innovation Hub program, the Toronto Public Library is bringing 3D-printing technology and a slew of other high-tech software and devices to two of its locations in hopes of educating Torontonians.
“The Digital Innovation Hub really brings together a range of new technologies that include iMacs, a variety of MacBook pros, and a range of digital video and audio editing equipment – everything from open-sourced and beginner-level software, to quite a sophisticated professional-level editing software,” said Paul Trumphour, access and information manager at Toronto Public Libraries.
Software including Final Cut Pro, Adobe Creative Suite, Logic Pro and a variety of 3D software applications will be available to the public at the Toronto Reference Library and the new Fort York library, which is expected to open early this year.
But access to 3D printers will provide a unique experience for the public.
While 3D printing has gained popularity over the last year (with users making headlines for controversial creations like 3D-printed guns) and many consumer-grade models are sold in Canada, the technology remains puzzling to most.
But Trumphour hopes that will change by allowing book-borrowers to test out the devices.
“One of the things that the library has been doing is trying to equalize people’s access to information and knowledge,” Trumphour told Global News.
“We became a kind of community hub for people to come in and get access to decent Internet for free. A few years ago we introduced access to Microsoft Office on pretty much all of our work stations. One of our goals is to bring awareness that this type of technology exists and how it can be used.”
Library-goers will be able to sign up for seminars and workshops that will teach them about the 3D printing process – from what types of printing materials they are using, to how 3D printers turn scans into objects – and safety procedures.
READ MORE: How does 3D printing work?
“We are hoping to provide people with access to websites like Thingiverse so that they can grab a hold of the 3D image and they can download it to an SD card, and with the help of staff be able to print that item,” said Trumphour.
Thingiverse is a community where users can share and download 3D modelling designs to print everything from action figures, to phone cases and even jewellery on a consumer-grade 3D printer.
Trumphour noted that print jobs will have a time limit of up to two hours – as some 3D print jobs can take as long as 10 hours to finish. This way once the program builds momentum, users will be able to get their fair share of time with the device.
Eventually, the library hopes to partner with local maker spaces (a community centre that allows people to use technology and participate in workshops) in the city to introduce more advanced programming.
The Toronto Reference Library Digital Innovation Hub will open in the coming weeks, though no official date has been set.