3D printing, Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries

The 2nd Floor PLUS STEM School Chattanooga

Over the past few months, the Chattanooga Public Library has collaborated with the STEM School Chattanooga on a project with juniors for the Project and Problem Based Learning curriculum. The project that the library presented to the students dealt with 3D Printing: How can we create a 3D Printing station that allows the community to walk up to the 3D Printer, watch a video tutorial that introduces 3D printing, and in the end have the customer leave with a great 3D printing experience and an object.

Over the next few months, the students and their teacher Michael Stone worked on what a 3D Printing station looks like, what it includes, and then spent the time building the station in their school Fab Lab. The end result? Check out the image in the tweet above! It’s a beautiful station like structure that was created by the students. The words 3D PRINTER represent the various stages of 3D printing….from first layer to the honeycomb structured middle to the end product. Using the laser engraver, the students also created a plaque that proudly displays the STEM School Fab Lab logo. Finally, the students put together tutorial videos for customers to watch so that they could get acquainted with 3D printing. You can watch those videos here: Beginner Video and Advanced Video.

I’m super happy with the results and I couldn’t ask for more. The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library is all about the public library as an experience, and the 3D printing station created by the STEM School fits perfectly in with the vibe of the 2nd Floor.  I look forward to working with the STEM School and their students on more projects in the very near future!

For more of my writings on 3D Printing, click here!

For the FAQ’s and details on 3D Printing on The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library, click here!


The 3 D’s of 3D Printing (Version 2.0)


Almost a year ago I wrote a post on this blog titled The 3 D’s of 3D Printing (Version 1.0)I’ve been meaning to catch up and post an update but I haven’t got around it until now.

This Saturday, our library will begin the following procedure with our 3D printer on The 2nd Floor of the Downtown Chattanooga Public Library.  This is sort of the Version 2.0 of the whole 3 D’s of 3D Printing idea.

Anyone who wishes to use a 3D printer must have a Chattanooga Public Library card in good standing, meaning that they must not have greater than $5.00 in fines and their registration must not have expired.

Anyone who uses the 3D printer will be charged $0.06 cents per gram of PLA plastic used. The amount of plastic used will be determined when the library employee who is working with the patron previews the 3D print.

The 2nd Floor 3D Printer is for ages 0-18 only.

Users will get a maximum 30-45 minutes per day to 3D print an object, as the 2nd Floor 3D printer is designed to be used as a basic introduction to 3D printing.

So why the changes?  Well, to be honest with you there were really no problems with the first version of the program to begin! It worked well. Kids, Tweens, and Teens got their assignment and they completed them when they visited the library.  Megan Emery and I made every intent to add more challenges to the program but….simply stated we just didn’t have enough staff time to make those other challenges happen.

Our summer at the Chattanooga Public Library is what really made us rethink this program. We were slammed with visitors to the library this summer (a VERY good thing) and we couldn’t really focus on getting each kid, tween, and teen updated on the program. Instead, we took an introductory “here’s the 3D printer, here’s Tinkercad and Thingiverse, you have this amount of time, have fun and we’re totally here to help” approach.  It allowed us to give the 3D printing experience to more of our community which is something we wanted to do.

Why the charges you ask? It makes sense for the library to find a way to keep income coming into the library so that we can purchase the proper amount of PLA plastic needed. 6 cents per gram is not a lot in the long run. Will it deter some of the community from using the 3D printer? Of course, as money always will deter people from doing anything. But we are taking the approach of “it’s a small cost that helps us keep this service here for you” with the community. It’s a positive and honest message that needs to be told.

So hopefully it won’t take me another year to follow up on this, but I hope this is informative for everyone who reads it.  And if you have any questions, you can always email me about it at justinthelibrarian at gmail dot com.

Have a wonderful day!

Chattanooga Public Library, Chattanooga, TN, Libraries

What’s Goin’ On

2014-01-24 18.57.29I haven’t done a great job sharing the nitty gritty details about what’s been happening on The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library and I wanted to take a moment to change that.  I knew that the work here in Chattanooga would  be unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in the past but what I didn’t realize was just how much work there would be.  This is not a bad thing at all…in fact, it is a very good thing. The 10 months I’ve been here have been the best professional experience of my life.

So let’s play some catch up, shall we?

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We’ve been playing around with the concept of how we work on the 2nd Floor.  There’s a strong drive to get us away from the “desk” model and into something that’s more of a “always working in and with the public” model.  I’m totally on board.  Why?  We’re public librarians and the public is our bread and butter.  If we ain’t helping them, what are we doing with our time?

The goal is to create something that isn’t big and scary and instead  invites the community to work alongside us.  We want them to sit next to us.  We want them to feel that our workspace is a place where they can connect and hang out with us.  It’s collaborative.

The “always working in and with the public” model has its good parts (we’re always there for the public) and the bad parts (how do we get away from the public when we need to do something else that requires focus?).  We haven’t found the perfect answer but we’re trying new things.  We’ll find what works for us and go with it.

For more on this, read Work Spaces

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One of the things I’ve heard most from librarians is that you’ll never know how many people you’ll get at a program and there’s no really good way to predict these kinds of numbers.  I agree. I’ve had some duds and I’ve had some hits.  To answer this question, we’re trying something I like to call “neverending programming.”  Why put a lot of energy into programs that only happen at a certain time during the day?  Why not have things going on all the time?

We’ve got a mix of neverending programming and traditional programs happening at the moment.  To see all of the “neverending programming” we offer on the 2nd Floor,click here.  Traditional scheduled programs still work, but we want to have something for everyone at all times.  This is our way of finding a balance for everyone in our community.

For more on this, read Buttons, Buttons Everywhere and The 2nd Floor Photo Booth

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How in the heck does one manage one 3D printer and make it avaliable for every single person in the community? I think about the answer to that question a lot.  3D printing takes time and when you have a city of over 160,000 to serve that’s a lot of 3D printing.

I also ask myself this question all the time: how do you make the 3D printing experience worthwhile?  Going onto Thingiverse, finding something neat to print out, and doing that is great but there’s gotta be more, right?

Over the past few months, my colleague Megan Emery and I have come up with an informal program called The 3 D’s of 3D Printing.  It’s part gamification, part badge system, part learning experience, part our way of making sure we’re not turning into a 3D print factory.  Does it work?  Parts of it does.  It allows us to educate the kids, tweens, and teens about 3D printing and make the process into a learning experience.  Where it doesn’t work is how it’s a drop in program that requires staff time.  I’ve noticed that 3D printing interest happens most when we are busiest (Monday-Thursday between 4-8 and Saturdays between 1-5, FYI) and finding the time to really work with someone one on one isn’t going as smoothly as we’d like. But with everything else we do, we have the flexibility to change it to fit with what the community and the staff needs at this moment.  I’ll be sure to check back in soon when we move from version 1.0 of this program to version 1.5!


We’ve moved so much stuff around (with the help of our maintenance staff, thank you!) in our quest to make the 2nd Floor a destination for ages 0-18.  Books and shelves that were once here are now there and tables and chairs have been re purposed as creative tables and more. With the 2nd Floor, nothing ever stays the same and that’s a good thing…we are constantly trying to improve our services to best meet the needs of our users.

Thinking of the 2nd Floor as a flexible space that’s always changing has helped.  Our director Corinne Hill says that the only certain thing these days is change and she’s right.  If that’s what our staff can expect, then moving some furniture and services around won’t be so much of a big deal.

Here in Chattanooga I’ve been doing way more of what I’m calling manager type stuff.  I make the weekly schedules.  I book programs.  I do staff payroll.  I handle vacation requests.  I make sure the staff is aware of all of the changes happening.  It’s been a tough transition to this role but it is something I am really enjoying.  Management is hard but very rewarding.

My management gurus these are a triforce of awesome.  Corinne Hill (director of the Chattanooga Public Library) and Dan and Lisa Nausley of Sandler Training in Chattanooga have taught me more about management in the last 10 months than I’ve ever known.  Like I said above, it’s challenging but it’s a welcome challenge.  This is growth and growth is tough.

For more on manager type stuff, please read Staff Development and Training

A lot of folks said “are you sure you’re gonna like the south?” when I announced that I was moving to Chattanooga. I’m happy to report that I finally have an answer for you: YES.  What makes it great are the people.  The city of Chattanooga loves their community and even more so, their library.  Their input, suggestions, comments, and support help make the Chattanooga Public Library awesome.  I point to  The 2nd Floor Commercial as an example: directed by a local teen named Zachary Cross, this was filmed and edited on his own time just to share what the 2nd Floor is about.

Chattanooga is awesome.  It’ll keep being awesome.  I’ll keep on working hard to do my part.

Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries, MAKE!, Technology, Teens

The 3 D’s of 3D Printing (Version 1.0)

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Megan Emery teaches a group of tweens and teens about 3D printing on The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library

Over the past month, we’ve been working on a 3D printing program for the 2nd Floor called the 3 D’S of 3D PRINTING

The idea came out of brainstorming session between myself and Megan Emery.  While we were super excited to offer 3D printing to our tweens and teens, it got to be a lot less fun and more of a 3D printing factory.  We wanted to capture the excitement of the 3D printer, give it some guidlines, and help streamline the process.  What came out of the brainstorming session was this:

To introduce tweens, and teens to 3D Printing, they must go through three steps:


  • Tweens and Teens will use Thingiverse.com to locate an item they wish to 3D print.
  • Tweens and Teens will download the STL file.
  • Tweens and Teens will load the STL file into Makerware, resize the object, and make the object into an X3G file to be 3D printed.
  • 3D printed in 20 minutes or less


  • Using Tinkercad.com, Tweens and Teens will create a basic design that can be printed in 30 minutes.
  • Tweens and Teens will download the STL file.
  • Tweens and Teens will load the STL file into Makerware, resize the object, and make the object into an X3G file to be 3D printed.


  • • Using Tinkercad.com or Thingiverse.com, Tweens and Teens will create and/or download a object and have the object print in 1 hour or less.

• You must be present for the print
• The tweens and teens get a card that shows their progress (located at the 2nd Floor Workspace). Staff will mark their progress on the card using their initials.

Over the past month, we’ve beta tested the program with 22 tweens and teens (so far!) and have closely looked at where the program works and where it doesn’t work.  We’ve got some fine tuning to do over the next few months so stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated.  In the meantime, have fun 3D printing!

Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries, MAKE!, Teens

Happy Holidays to You

1476458_1428423114056672_1996036609_n3D printed tree ornament, made by Samuel Kertay.  He designed it himself and asked us at The 2nd Floor to 3D print it for him.  It was so awesome to see this photo shared by him on Facebook yesterday.


Libraries, MAKE!, Technology

Let’s Talk: 3D Printing

Let’s have a good discussion about this.  We can talk here in the comments or we can talk over at Branch here.  You pick.  I’ll compile the discussion at a later point and post it to this blog.

I’ve reached a point where 3D printing feels more like a 3D printing service…you come to the library, you make something, we print it at a later date, and you pick it up.  I want to change this but I am hitting a roadblock.  Any suggestions on better practices?

Thank you all for your input.

Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries, Technology

3D Printed Mask

2013-10-25 16.15.51My oldest son Finn (aka the heir to the Hoenke family fortune) loves to dress up, so when I came across this awesome mask on Thingiverse I had to print it out for him.  This is where the future of 3D printing excites me…imagine being able to hold a library program where kids can come in, design, and print their own masks in an hour.  This will be great.

You can find the STL file for this mask here