Policymakers: 3D printing in libraries advances education and entrepreneurship

For Immediate Release
Wed, 12/09/2015


Nancy Gravatt

Press Officer

Washington Office

ALA Washington



Washington, D.C. – Libraries are now the leading place where the public accesses 3D printers. Whether it’s to provide increased opportunities for children to experiment with new technologies or encourage new technology-based innovation in small business, policymakers should look to include libraries in their policies and programs.

Toward A More Printed Union:  Library 3D Printing Democratizes Creation, a new report from the American Library Association (ALA), highlights the multifaceted 3D printing leadership of libraries. The paper urges public and private sector leaders to leverage this leadership to unlock the full potential of 3D printing technology for all Americans.

“Libraries are a national network of community anchors,” ALA President Sari Feldman said. “As libraries transform, they can help our leaders harness the power of 3D printing to achieve individual opportunity and progress in every part of our country.”

As the paper illustrates, library 3D printing yields benefits across a gamut of disciplines – from education, to entrepreneurship and economic development. At the David C. Barrow Elementary School in Athens Georgia, third graders used their library’s 3D printer to design and build their own jewelry as part of a geologic lesson on rocks and minerals; at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the W.E.B.  Dubois library has opened a facility devoted to encouraging entrepreneurship through 3D printing; and in public libraries across the country, classes and tutorials on 3D modeling and scanning help people of all ages build cutting-edge skills for the innovation economy.

The paper, authored by Charlie Wapner of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), is the third 3D printing publication released by OITP. The first two – a tip sheet (pdf) and a white paper (pdf) elucidating the policy implications of 3D printing in the library context – are part of a series of informative resources labeled “Progress in the Making,” meant to help library professionals navigate the legal and regulatory complexities of providing 3D printing as a service.

About the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy

The Office for Information Technology Policy advances ALA’s public policy activities by helping secure information technology policies that support and encourage efforts of libraries to ensure access to electronic information resources as a means of upholding the public’s right to a free and open information society. It works to ensure a library voice in information policy debates and to promote full and equitable intellectual participation by the public.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.