Fayetteville Free Library Creates the First Public 3D Printing Lab in USA
Posted on: 09/05/2012 05:30 PM

The 3D printing craze is raging, and more and more people are using 3d printers to make creative and useful items. Since not everyone has $1000 and a bunch of time to throw at a 3D printer of their own, other organizations have started community 3D printing centers. A few common names associated with these spaces are Fab Labs, Hackerspaces, and Tech Shops. But, they all have a problem...

Usually, these spaces provide services to a specific group, not the general public. Fab Labs have been associated MIT and are for underserved communities, Hackerspaces have membership fees (and we all hate membership fees), and Tech-Shops cost $1.5 million to start, on average. Ouch!

This is where Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) comes in. What if a community library had similar tools as MIT at its fingertips (which is possible with 3D printing), plus the knowledge necessary to help others use them? Thats one powerful mix.

FFL Executive Director, Sue Considine, says, "There has been much discussion lately about 'transforming' government, libraries, businesses, etc…but I believe we’ve missed the mark. I believe it is our responsibility to provide the pathways and vehicles; the 'access' to transformational experiences.  When we do that, communities and individuals transform themselves by coming together, thinking, developing, creating and making."

The mission of the Fayetteville Free Library is to provide free and open access to ideas and information (just like any other library), but with a twist. Considine continues, "As a result of this clear and simple mission, our philosophy is that libraries exist to provide access to opportunities for people to come together to learn, discuss, discover, test, create.  Transformation happens when people have free access to powerful information, and new and advanced technology."

"By providing access and opportunity to experiences, libraries provide a pathway for people and communities to transform their lives themselves," Considine states.

There is not one place in the rather large state of New York that provides free and open access to 3D printing technology. Not one! Now his relatively small Upstate NY library has changed that; the public library will provide a safe and accessible space where anyone in the community can interact, understand, and develop virtually anything with 3D printing.

Not only is FFL the first public 3D printing location in New York State, its also the first library in the entire United States to build a free public access Fab Lab.

A Fab Lab is basically the evolution of a computer lab. Think about just a few years ago when you went to the library to use a computer!  Fab Labs encourage local innovation, collaboration and education. It provides a space and context to offer intermediate and advanced software and hardware training for the community.

Funding is always an issue for public projects, but FFL has it all figured out. "Funding to support the developing program is strong and substantial in local in-kind support.  We are pursuing state and federal funding including an IMLS grant for $100,000.  Also, we recently won an award of $10,000 at the Contact Summit in NYC, and are in the middle of a growing, crowd-sourced, online campaign.  We are currently exploring capital funding from multiple arenas and have received a NYS DLD Library Construction Grant for $260,000," Considine says.

“The funding has allowed us to begin the first phase of renovation of an existing space within the library that will house not only the FFL Fab Lab, but also a public digitization lab and a business center to support job seekers, small business owners and entrepreneurs,” Considine says. “Bring your big ideas; we have the tools and resources to help you move those ideas forward and to make lives better."

Contact FFL at:
300 Orchard St., Fayetteville, NY 13066
(315) 637-6374
Welcome to the FFL!

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