I spent yesterday hanging out at the GigTank Demo Day, listening to 3D printing startups pitch their ideas and companies at investors. It was a fantastic event, as is normal for things that the Company Lab is running, and I had a good time listening to the excitement around 3D printing as a technology.
It made me want to look back and see how long I’ve been following this technology, and I was dumbfounded to discover that the first mention of 3D printing on this very blog was in 2006. In October of 2006 I posted about a company called Fabjectory that was way ahead of the curve in providing 3D printing as a service for people. Then, not quite a year later I held the first 3D printed object that I’d ever touched, and it happened to be a print of myself as a Nintendo Mii. That was in August of 2007!
In 2011 I was asked to record a video by the LITA Top Tech Trends committee as an experiment for doing some information updates on technology between ALA Annual and Midwinter, and the trend I pointed to was 3D printing.
There’s a lot more that I’ve written over the years, ranging from my interviews with Bre Pettis (CEO of Makerbot Industries) about libraries and 3D printing to reporting last year for American Libraries on the 3D printing news from CES 2014.
All this time and interest in the technology is coming to head in the publication of a new Library Technology Report that I have written on 3D printing, called 3D Printers for Libraries. In it I explain all of the varieties of 3D printing and 3D printers, from the inexpensive fused-deposition printers that most libraries are installing to the highest end Electron Beam Melting printers that are used to produce medical-grade implants. I go through the pros and cons of a variety of manufacturers, and make suggestions for libraries who are just getting started in offering 3D printing as a service.
If your library is looking at starting to offer 3D printing, this is a good reference work to help you make some decisions about types of printers and pitfalls and problems you may see with them. If your library would like some help in making decisions like this, or in figuring out how to offer 3D printing to your patrons, feel free to contact me (griffey at gmail.com or @griffey on Twitter). I’d love to help you get to a place where your staff is confident in offering 3D printing as a new technology offering from your library.
I am continually amazed, every day, at the reach and spread of the LibraryBox Project. This tweet from today took my breath away:
It refers to the 1984 Symposium, a group of people who gather every year on the anniversary of Orwell’s death, to honor him and discuss the ideas contained within 1984 by picnicking at his gravesite. That there is a small piece of me there in the form of a box that helps to make information that much more open and free…I’m so very, very pleased by this.
ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas is going to be a fantastic conference for a ton of reasons, but at least one of those reasons is that there is a new exhibitor that anyone interested in technology, coding, and general hardware hackery should get to know: SparkFun Electronics.
SparkFun is a company that not only makes awesome hardware and hardware kits, they have an amazing educational wing that works with schools and libraries to teach Maker skills to people across the country. I had the opportunity back in February to visit and learn from Sparkfun along with a handful of other Chattanooga librarians you may have heard of. Their educational materials are top-notch, and they are happy to work with libraries who want to teach Arduino, coding, soft circuits, and a few dozen other projects.
At ALA Annual they will be in the exhibit hall, Booth 1870, and will have a ton of interesting stuff to look at and play with. Sparkfun’s Jeff Branson along with Nate Hill from the Chattanooga Public Library will also be taking part in the LITA Library Code Year Interest Group Technology Speed Dating event on Saturday, June 28, in the Las Vegas Convention Center Room N119. That looks like an incredible lineup of presenters, and will be a great program.
In addition to all of that, they will be hosting a number of short classes in the Networking Uncommons if you want to get a quick 1/2 hour introduction to Arduino, AruBlock, Scratch, or Processing…or if you want to stick around for the whole shebang and have a 2 hour block of technology awesomeness. They will be doing two classes of each:
Saturday, June 28 – Networking Uncommons
Monday, June 30 – Networking Uncommons
If you have any interest at all in Maker technologies, I recommend showing up for one of these…Jeff from Sparkfun is a great instructor, and I guarantee it’ll be a good time. I hope to see you all there!
Are you going to be at ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas? Would you like to build your own LibraryBox for yourself or your library, but aren’t sure how to make that happen? Well step right up, I’ve got your answer!
On Saturday, June 28th from 11:15am until 12 Noon in the Networking Uncommons in the Las Vegas Convention Center, I will be holding the fist ever LibraryBox Installfest! What does that mean? It means that you buy the hardware and bring it with you, and I will walk you through the install process, show you some tips and tricks for customizing, and generally answer any questions about the LibraryBox Project that you might have. I’ll be there helping anyone who shows up, so just drop by anytime during that 45 minutes.
What you DEFINITELY need to bring with you
- Either a TP-Link MR3020 or a TP-Link MR3040 router (both are about $35). Choose one, both work great for a LibraryBox.
- A USB Thumb Drive that you will attach to the router above.
- A laptop computer
The install process, from beginning to end, will take about 10-15 minutes. If you show up with the equipment listed, I will make sure that you leave with a working LibraryBox.
Join me in the Networking Uncommons for the first ever LibraryBox Installfest, and learn how to build your own LibraryBox. Or just swing by and ask questions. Or heck, just come say hello and grab a LibraryBox sticker.
See you in Vegas!
As some of you may have heard, the White House is hosting a Maker Faire in the very near future. See this release for more details: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/02/03/announcing-first-white-house-maker-faire
Maker spaces in libraries allow everyone to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills and facilitate opportunity for collaboration and community engagement that will aid in the next generation of STEM jobs. They provide access to tools (from books to 3D printers) and, most importantly, ‘access to each other’. Library maker spaces are powerful informal learning spaces that give local community members the ability to create, hack, and make their future.
A number of organizations are working together to show library support for making in our communities. If you and your institution support President Obama’s call for, “an all-hands-on-deck approach to science, technology, engineering, and math…to make sure that all of us as a country are lifting up these subjects for the respect that they deserve,” please email Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up as a supporter. Time is running out, and having as many names as possible on the list will help show the White House that libraries are a vital part of the Maker movement, and integral to supporting their communities.
Over a year ago, I was approached by Ken Varnum to write a chapter for a book he was editing, at the time called Top Ten Technologies for 2017. He was persuasive, and I had this crazy idea that had been bouncing around in my head for some time about libraries and open hardware. I told him my idea, and described the argument I wanted to make, and he told me to go for it.
So I did.
The book ended up being called The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know: A LITA Guide and my chapter in it The Case for Open Hardware in Libraries. I’m pretty proud of it, as it’s as close as I’ve been able to come, after a couple of years worth of thinking and speaking and writing, to distilling why I think this is an important thing for libraries to be doing.
Click the above link to download a copy for your very own, or take a look below for a quick skim. Either way, I hope that it starts or continues some conversations on this front in libraries. As always, if there are libraries out there that want to do this sort of thing, build their own hardware, create their own measurement tools, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to help you. Just let me know.
The next stage in my career is going to be helping libraries everywhere be the best they can possibly be. How can I do that? Well, after almost a decade at the forefront of library technology, I have a broad set of knowledge that could be useful to libraries everywhere. I can help your library and librarians with:
- Makerspace and maker equipment planning and training
- Strategic planning for technology in the library
- New building or space planning for patron and staff technology
- LibraryBox building, development, use in outreach, gaming, disaster planning and more…
- Implementation and management of electronics in the library, including iPads, eReaders, and other personal electronics
- Communication planning and structural operations between librarians and external IT
- Hackerspace/Makerspace workshops; Arduino, Raspberry Pi, 3D printing
I’m very interested in talking with libraries and librarians who would benefit from having my experience with library technologies directed at the issues facing them. I would also love to speak at events, staff days, conferences, or other places where a fresh take on technology and libraries might be needed…I have a rich and varied speaking career at this point; check out my CV for examples of the sorts of talks that I’ve given, and feel free to contact me for references.
I’m also interested in what libraries and librarians need, so if the above list isn’t what you’re looking for, let me know. Leave a comment, drop me an email, send me a tweet, whatever you’d like…let me know what would be useful to you and your library. What would be useful for your staff? Where can I do the most good, help the most, be the most effective? I’m interested in reinvention, so if I haven’t thought about your need, let me know.
As noted in my previous post, I’m going to work on LibraryBox over the next couple of months, but I’m interested in helping libraries everywhere be better with technology. Let me know what I can do to help you…email me at email@example.com and let’s work together on how we can make libraries even more awesome.
Starting Wednesday, I’m heading out for a couple of really exciting events. The first is an IMLS Stakeholder meeting in San Francisco, CA on May 15th that is dedicated to a discussion of how library spaces are changing. From the press release:
The San Francisco meeting will focus on current trends, challenges and opportunities to consider for framing future investments in this area. The discussion will cover the following:
- The Shift to Participatory Learning
- Approaches to Technology and Space
- Staffing and Mentorship Models
- Connected Learning
- Community Engagement: Partnerships and Programming
- Measuring Success: Evaluation
I’m really excited to be a part of this discussion, and can’t wait to meet everyone involved. The event is going to be livestreamed, and they are looking for lots of community involvement, so please join in. The twitter hashtag is #imlsfocus and if you’d like to tweet me directly at @griffey, I’d be happy to ask questions on your behalf.
The incredibly awesome side-effect of being in San Francisco on Thursday and Friday of this week is that Saturday is Maker Faire Bay Area 2014, the largest Maker Faire in the world. This will be my first time being able to attend the grand-high-holy of maker faires, and I’m completely excited. I will of course have a few LibraryBoxen with me, and will be hanging out with Sparkfun showing it off when I can. Sparkfun is going to be located in the Intel booth, so come by and say hello, or just download some free books from the LibraryBox that will be stationed there.
And to round out the awesome week, I’m going to be heading over to Bozeman, MT for the Montana Academic Library Symposium 2014: Makerspaces, DIY Culture, and the Emergence of the Smart Library Building, where I’ll be delivering a keynote about…Library Spaces! I’ll be talking about how the digital devices that are coming over the next 5-10 years will impact the use of our physical spaces, how we can react to that, and how we can bolster our efforts in appropriately marketing ourselves to stakeholders regarding these issues. I’m really excited to meet the fantastic librarians in Montana, and talk about the future of our spaces.
As always, if you’re going to be at any of these events and want to meet up, drop me an email at griffey at gmail.com, or send me a message on twitter. I’d love to continue any of these conversations, or if you just want a LibraryBox demo, I’ll be happy to do that as well. Let me know!
On July 28th, 2013 the LibraryBox Project got it’s first major public push, with the funding of the LibraryBox v2.0 Kickstarter Campaign. Today, 9 months later, I can finally announce that the v2.0 code is officially done, and is now available for download for installing as well as the source code being available on Github. There are a huge number of improvements, enhancements, and all around awesome things in the v2.0. I recommend you take a look at the About v2.0 page to see the highlights.
This means several things are now possible. First off, it means that the Kickstarter rewards for those that backed at the “get a LibraryBox” level are going to start shipping this week. I’ll be working my way through building and shipping those as quickly as possible. Those that have ordered Boxen directly, those are also going to be shipping ASAP, starting next week. My process will be to build and ship as I go, in the order placed. So those of you that jumped on earliest will start seeing shipping notices hit your inboxes over the weekend or very early next week.
This release is also the beginning of even more development for the LibraryBox Project. As announced just a few weeks ago, the Project has been chosen as a recipient of a Knight Foundation Prototype grant. This grant will fund the next round of development on LibraryBox, making it even better, more flexible, and more useful to more people around the world. More information about this next round of development, including goals and timelines, will be coming soon.
While I have reached out to a few individuals, and I have posted about it around social media, I realized that I haven’t actually formally said anything here, the publication-of-record for myself, as it were. With the increase in effort on LibraryBox as a result of the Knight Foundation Prototype grant funding and a general desire to find a way to be more effective in helping libraries in the US and around the world, I’m going to be transitioning into splitting my time between the LibraryBox Project and working as an independent consultant and speaker for libraries everywhere. This does mean that I will be moving out of my position at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Library.
I don’t have a timetable for this move just yet. Leaving UTC is going to be incredibly hard, as it’s been my library home for nearly a decade now. We’re just a few months from opening our brand new academic library, something that has been the focus of my working life for nearly 7 years. But I find myself being drawn to helping libraries at a broader level than I can manage at a single institution. When I started at UTC, the library didn’t offer Microsoft Office on their computers, maintained a website that was just a series of flat HTML files, and had an IT department of 2. We have 4-5, soon to be 6-7 people dedicated to IT in the library now, we’ve managed 2 complete website revisions, gone through an ILS transition, more than doubled the number of computers we have available for students, launched a variety of blogs, an internal wiki, and a social media presence, and so much more. There is literally not a single part of the Library’s IT infrastructure that has not changed in the last 9 years, and I could not be prouder of what I’ve helped to accomplish at UTC. I’ve had fantastic managers, wonderful co-workers, and amazing friends at UTC that have supported me to this point in my library work, and I thank all of them from the bottom of my heart.
There is still much to do between now and leaving UTC, and I’m going to start blogging more regularly about the transition and what I can bring to libraries as a consultant and speaker. This is, as Warren Ellis says, “…a strange and not entirely comfortable time to be alive.” I’m excited about this next part of my library journey, partially because it scares me to death. I’m leaving a tenured Associate Professor position in order to build something that I created, on the hope that the library community finds it valuable enough to support.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing more about what I think I can bring to your organizations. For now, I’m going to work on finalizing my projects at UTC, try and find a way of handing off almost a decade of knowledge about the UTC Library, and keep my eyes focused on the horizon I’m driving towards. If you’d like to talk to me about consulting, speaking, or teaching for your library, organization, or conference, drop me a line at griffey at gmail.com.
I'm Jason Griffey, a librarian, technologist, writer and speaker. This is my personal/professional blog, but I also write Release Candidate (focusing on future tech) and for the ALA TechSource blog. Visit my homepage for more.