Cool hands-on technology at Plain City Library

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(Posted Oct. 15, 2017)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Virtual reality, 3-D printing, laser etching, digitization of slides and 8mm movies. It’s all possible at Plain City Public Library.

With a $49,999 grant from the federal Institute of Library and Museum Sciences, the library has been acquiring technology and equipment since January. All of it is available for use by the public.

“Our most popular piece of equipment right now is the mounted slide scanner,” said Chris Long, library director. “You can make digital copies of up to 50 slides per hour, and it’s all automated.”

Patrons also can visit the library to make digital files for three-dimensional printing and virtual art. The library owns two 3-D printers, one for use at the library and one that travels around to community groups.

Another new acquisition is a laser etching set-up, which can cut digital images or shapes onto or into a variety of tangible materials. For example, one could etch a digital photo onto a piece of wood. Or, for projects too big for the 3-D printer, one could etch several smaller parts for assembly.

Library staffers provide a brief training for patrons who want to use the 3-D printers or laser etcher.

The library already has on hand two HTC5 virtual reality headsets. New peripheral pieces are in development that would let users create their own video games and art. Long said the library will keep tabs on the development and purchase the pieces as they become available.

When asked why the library is investing in these various types of technology, Long said, “How libraries are used today is much different than libraries were used 100, 50 or even 10 years ago. Going to the library, you should be able to learn and know. These equipment pieces will help with that.”

The equipment collection gives patrons the opportunity to learn about and use technology not normally found in home settings, Long explained. It also gives them new ways to create and preserve information.

“We wrote the grant with the idea of making family and cultural history accessible and sharable for the years ahead,” Long said.

Currently, patrons must make an appointment to use the new equipment as space doesn’t allow for all of the pieces to be out at the same time. That will change after the library’s upcoming renovation, set to start Nov. 22. The plan includes making space to have all pieces available for walk-up use, Long said. The renovations will be done in April 2018.

To learn more about the new technology or to make an appointment to use the equipment, contact Shane Hoffman, technology services manager, at (614) 873-4912, ext. 124, or shoffman@plaincitylib.org. Or stop by the library at 305 W. Main St., Plain City.

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