Sun, Jan

Printer molds library future


It becomes more apparent as time goes on: Yavapai County’s libraries are far from low-tech.

But for its barn-like exterior, the Camp Verde Community Library, a two-story, 17,000-square-foot building less than a year old, does not feel much like a rural facility.

Computer and wireless internet access is simple, and the library features state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment. From the get-go, library director Kathy Hellman planned for a fluid integration of technology.

Moreover, she helped her staff pursue technologyheavy programming, including the library’s successful bid to host the Discover NASA: From Our Town to Outer Space exhibit, one of one of only eight places in the nation to do so.

Teen services librarian Zachary Garcia has had a major impact on the tech — one might even say geeky — emphasis at the library. Less than a month ago, he helped acquire an original Prusa i3 MK2 3-D printer.

The item arrived direct from the Czech Republic and a bit late for its intended unveiling during the library’s summer reading program, but Garcia is sticking with the program’s theme, Build a Better World.

“The project hit the theme twofold: We would be building the printer, as opposed to buying a complete one, and once complete, the printer would build things through its 3-D prints,” Garcia said, adding that funding came via the Friends of the Camp Verde Library, who granted the children’s library and teen library $1,000 each.

Being that the printer will not be pat of summer reading programming, Garcia decided to turn it into its own program and invite the community to assist in building the printer every Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. until it is complete.

“We didn’t have these when I was a kid, and most people still can’t just go pick one up at the store,” Garcia said. “The more I researched it, the more I wished it had been around 15 years ago .... They can be cost-prohibitive and there’s a learning curve, but having one at the library takes the inaccessibility out of the equation. The rest is the learning, which is what libraries are all about.

“I didn’t have a library like CVCL growing up, so I didn’t really know what libraries could be,” he continued. “When I think of program ideas or resources for the teens, I research and ask a lot of questions of my coworkers .... If an idea makes me think, ‘Man, I wish we had that when I was a kid,’ then it’s probably a good idea.”

Garcia said he has some of his own catching up to do, familiarizing himself with the device and ironing out which programs will best make use of the printer, but he has made sure the beginning is suitably modest: The first project he will tackle with the 3-D printer is making chess pieces for two boards that are missing a couple pieces.

“I think it’s important that the technology is available to the teens to learn, because one day they could be just as prevalent in homes as computers, which turned out to be much more than a passing fad,” Garcia said.

According to Garcia, acquiring the 3-D printer goes hand in hand with his own interests and a cultural shift in the United States.

“Right now, it’s cool to be a geek,” Garcia said. “It no longer carries the negative stigma it once did. Everyone knows Star Wars, Star Trek and the Marvel and DC universes, and it’s fantastic .... It’s a great way to bring people together over common ground. Magic: The Gathering reigns supreme at the teen library’s 'Game Night with Zack' on Thursdays, and through [the game] I have kids interacting and becoming friends that ordinarily would have never crossed paths.”

Garcia also hosts another program, Chainmail Crafting, each Friday. For a full list of weekly events, including Garcia’s, visit cvlibrary.org/home/ library-events-calendar.

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