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Libraries a home for STEM in Delaware

Written on: July 14th, 2016 by: annie.norman in Blog PostsDirector

By Dr. Annie Norman, State Librarian; written for and published by the Delaware STEM Council on Tuesday, July 12, 2016.

Why Are Libraries Involved In…STEM?

Dr. Annie Norman, State Librarian

Dr. Annie Norman, State Librarian


I’m routinely asked why Delaware Libraries are involved in various topics, such as helping job seekers, supporting Entrepreneurship, assisting with healthy living, experimenting with STEM, and so on. The fact is, libraries have always supported all topic areas, and initially that support was through our book collections.

The Delaware State Library Commission marks 115 years in 2016, and over the past 115 years, formats, or containers for information have advanced and proliferated (such as print books, eMedia, audio, video, online tools, and more). In addition to collections for reading, libraries also offer experiences – computer and wireless internet access, workshops, programs, meet ups, and more – for hands on and shared learning. Libraries work with partners and experts in our communities to provide unique experiences that Delawareans might not have the opportunity to have otherwise.

My favorite STEM concept is “systems thinking,” which is epitomized in our statewide library infrastructure. The Delaware Library Consortium, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the launch this year, now includes 60 libraries, including all 33 public libraries. The DLC libraries share seamlessly 2.6 million books, eBooks, and much more through the Delaware Library Catalog (delawarelibraries.org). In FY2016 STEM related books were borrowed more than 360,000 times, including more than 4,600 eBook checkouts of STEM items in the popular and growing eMedia collection! The statewide library calendar showcases hundreds of library programs each month, including STEM activities.

STEM activities are routinely held in Delaware Libraries Inspiration Spaces, or mini-makerspaces, which are collaborative creative spaces where people can enthusiastically learn about and experiment with technology, entrepreneurship, and DIY activities. Learn about the tools and activities available at Delawarelibraries.org/IS and http://guides.lib.de.us/stem. The Delaware Aerospace Education Foundation and the Delaware Nature Society, two of our STEM partners, regularly conduct STEM programs in libraries throughout the state.

Imagineering @ Bridgeville Public Library

Written on: July 7th, 2016 by: hope.ellsworth in Blog PostsInspiration Space

With a nod toward Walt Disney, the Bridgeville Public Library hosts Imagineering opportunities for kids. One father explained the program this way:
“It was fantastic. There were kids soldering wires to circuit boards, assembling gearboxes, and using the 3d printer to make parts for their robots. They were using free programs for the 3d modeling and printing, online videos to learn how to assemble the components, and free tutorials as a guide to completing their projects. The teacher was great, and was really attentive to the kids and showed them how to answer their own questions. The other kids were incredibly polite, and even took my son with them to explain what they’re doing, why and how.
The whole time my son kept saying ‘can I make a robot?!’, he was super excited.”

The Imagineering Club and the Imagineering Basics Club are combining for the summer, and will meet every Wednesday from 3:30-5pm at the Bridgeville Public Library.

As usual, Mr. Keith will be there to help with the special projects and lab work (a basics lab and a new components lab). For more information contact the Bridgeville Public Library (www.bridgevillelibrary.com or 302-337-7401).

Makers of Delaware Libraries: Claymont Library Crochet Club

Written on: April 18th, 2016 by: carl.shaw in Blog Posts

Claymont 1Four years ago Claymont Library patron, Valerie McClain (top left) dropped a note in the suggestion box inquiring why the majority of activities were for children.  Shortly after, she was invited to address this concern first hand and she answered the call.  The Crochet Club of Claymont Library was born and they are going four years strong.  They meet every first and third Tuesday to talk, laugh, teach and most of all, create!  Some of their creations such as scarves, preemie/chemo caps, blankets and other gifts have been donated to various organizations while some members are becoming blossoming entrepreneurs after receiving offers to purchase their unique wares.

Most of all, a closely knit bond (pun intended) has been formed that expands to monthly luncheons, barbecues, book clubs and periodic day trips. They continuously welcome new members with open arms which was evident by the two new members who were being shown the ropes at the time of the interview. Everyone had their own reasons for joining the group but the consensus was the opportunity to be surrounded by great people working together to explore their creative potential!

This March, the group celebrated their four year anniversary with a fabulous party complete with sparkling cider, homemade baked goods and other refreshments! Our libraries are surely evolving! Join the Claymont Library Crochet Club on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month at 6:00pm.

Robocode at the Brandywine Hundred Library

Written on: March 8th, 2016 by: Sarena Fletcher in Blog PostsInformal learningInspiration SpaceTech

robocode_tariqThe first ever day of Robocode in Delaware Libraries was a blast!

This past Saturday, eight teens gathered at the Brandywine Hundred Library in Wilmington for this day-long workshop to learn the basics of coding with Java while building their own virtual battle tank. Students from Zip Code Wilmington led the class and guided the teens as they designed their bot’s strategy for battle.

Participants learned Java, laughed, and gave each other coder nicknames. What a great way to spend a cool Saturday in winter!

Library Meet MeetUp: 3D Printer Style

Written on: February 29th, 2016 by: Sarena Fletcher in Blog PostsInformal learningLearningTech

Meetup_Logo_2015I’m hosting my first MeetUp tonight.

I officially registered the N. Delaware 3D Printing MeetUp with MeetUp.com. I even named the members Enthusiasts. Since Delaware Libraries introduced 3D printing services a couple years ago I’ve met a lot of people in Delaware involved in some way with related technologies. I know them and they know me, but I’ve found they often don’t know of each other. I’m trying to bring them together to, well, meet up.

The first meeting will be at the Newark Free Library. I find it ironic that public libraries have served as places for people to meet others with similar interests for years, yet due to its growing popularity, I’ve been able to gain much more exposure and membership momentum by registering this new group with MeetUp.com.

My hope in gathering Enthusiasts is to increase collaboration across professions and communities, bring interested Delawareans to a neutral location to discuss how 3D printers have changed their lives. What brand of desktop 3D printer do they have at home? What do they use at work? For what purpose do they use it? How is 3D printing being introduced in schools?

Libraries across the world have been impelled to offer 3D printer services. Yet staff have been challenged by the amount of attention and maintenance required to keep our printers working in the libraries. Delaware’s libraries need community support to increase the success of these printers, to keep them running so anyone can place a request and witness their first print made. As more and more people are purchasing personal devices they too will require a community support network to figure out what they really brought into their homes. What is a ‘hot end isolator’ and where can I find one? How often am I supposed to ‘season’ the nozzle?

Hopefully, Enthusiasts from the N. Delaware 3D Printing MeetUp will be able to answer these kinds of questions for each other. Tonight’s meeting will be at a public library. Maybe the next meeting will be at a school, an engineering lab, or a 3D printer shop. Most important are the people coming together to create a community of practice around 3D printing and related technologies.

Delaware libraries that offer 3D printing services can be found on the Unleash Inner Genius LibGuide.

Tactile Map of the Wilmington Public Library

Written on: February 25th, 2016 by: Sarena Fletcher in Blog PostsInspiration SpaceTech

A couple months ago I was invited by one of my colleagues to a small gathering at the Wilmington Public Library to strategize ways to leverage the library’s 3D printers to help patrons with visual impairments. This had been an interest of mine, since the spring of 2014 when I first introduced a 3D printer and print to a member of the Delaware Library Access Services Friends Group.

Apparently it is one of Carl Shaw’s interests as well.

As the Inspiration Space Coordinator for the Wilmington Public Library, Carl has the fortune of working with a variety of library patrons, including Derek Alexander of the Delaware Division for the Visually Impaired (DVI). Carl and Derek experimented with some of the video recording and editing tools available to them at the Inspiration Space (such as a green screen and DSLR camera) to create a short video in which they discussed some practical applications for 3D printing to help the visually impaired. Please view their video by clicking here: 3D Printing for the Visually Impaired: Inspiration Space-Wilmington.

Together they came up with the idea to print a tactile map of the library.

3 - 1st Floor 11x17wilmpl_commons

Using the floorplan provided in a brochure, we created a basic electronic map comprised primarily of solid black lines and rectangles. We opened the floorplan in Microsoft Publisher, traced the shapes that represented the reference desk, bookshelves, elevators, and other features that we thought would be relevant to someone using the map as a library way finder. Through a couple of electronic file conversions using software such as Inkscape and the online 3D modeling application Tinkercad, we created a series of .stl files – a format commonly recognized by 3D modeling software.

 

2016-02-19-15.07.00Our first iteration has proven promising. We have a couple of prints, focused on the first floor Reading Room and Reference area. We are working with our contacts at DVI to figure best practices using braille to identify features such as the elevator. The next challenge will be how to best represent the open stairway that leads down to the Teen and Children’s areas.

Please check back for future updates on this project.

Thank you for the support

Written on: February 9th, 2016 by: Beth-Ann Ryan in Blog Posts

We are so thankful for all library supporters, including the Consavage family of Claymont, who spoke at the Joint Finance Committee hearing on February 3rd. After Clare and Colin Consavage told their story about 3-D printing Colin’s prosthetic hand at the Wilmington Public library, they received a standing ovation from legislators!

Transformational stories like this are truly what the library is all about. Read more about Colin and his family or watch an ABC or NBC news video of their story.

Teen Tech Week: Robocode

Written on: February 4th, 2016 by: Sarena Fletcher in Blog PostsInformal learningInspiration SpaceTech

TTWTo kick off Teen Tech Week, The Delaware Division of Libraries is partnering with Zip Code Wilmington and the Barrel of Makers to bring Robocode to the Brandywine Hundred Library. Instructors from Zip Code will guide 25 teens in a day-long workshop and programming game where teens will learn the basics of coding software by building their own virtual battle tank. Each participant will walk away with a solid introduction to Java, one of the world’s most in-demand programming languages.

Teens aged 14-18 are invited to participate in Robocode. Please register in person or call the Brandywine Hundred Library, 1300 Foulk Road, Wilmington, 302.477.3150.

Teen Tech Week is sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association. During this week libraries throughout the state of Delaware will showcase the great digital resources and services that are available to help teens succeed in school and prepare for college and 21st century careers.

Other activities in Delaware Libraries during Teen Tech Week, March 6-12th, include:

Monday, March 6 – Paint with Sphero at the Appoquinimink Community Library

Tuesday, March 7 – Join the Tech Revolution at the Bear Public Library

Wednesday, March 9 – Teen Film-Making Club meets at the Dover Public Library

Wednesday, March 9 – Imagineering Club meets at the Bridgeville Public Library

Wednesday, March 9 – Intro to 3D Design & Make a 3D Printed Box at the Woodlawn Public Library

Friday, March 11 – Minecraft Club meets at the Seaford Public Library

Contact your Delaware public library to learn about more opportunities to participate in Teen Tech Week.

ILEAD USA Delaware 2015

Written on: November 10th, 2015 by: Sarena Fletcher in Blog PostsEntrepreneurshipInformal learningInspiration SpaceTech

Participants of ILEAD Delaware

Participants of ILEAD Delaware

The Division of Libraries hosted the third and final session of ILEAD USA Delaware this past October. ILEAD, which stands for Innovative Librarians Engage, Apply, and Discover, is a professional development opportunity offered this past year in ten states across the United States. Earlier this year in Delaware, fourteen library staff gathered into three teams, each with the goal to develop an innovative product or program that uses participatory technology to address a community need. Their products are intended to be reproducible in other libraries. Our teams accomplished their goals through instructor led workshops, keynote presentations, hands-on explorations of new technologies, and rigorous group collaboration.

Delaware’s teams gathered for the first time last March at the University of Delaware, Virden Retreat Center. The teams self-identified themselves as Team Del-AWARE, Team Mission Possible, and Team T.A.L.E.N.T. (Teens And Librarians Engaging in New Technologies). The primary goal of this first session was to produce short videos introducing their community need and intended project focus.

Developing Collaboration Skills

Developing Collaboration Skills

As of March, Team T.A.L.E.N.T. knew they wanted to tap into the summer employment program for teens and train those teens in new technologies. Those teens would then have the knowledge and skills to further assist the library staff in serving the technological needs of the general public. The team struggled with the question of how to attract the tech savvy teens to apply for the summer program. Watch their entertaining video to learn more about their proposed strategy to engage their teen population.

The focus of the June session was on the team poster presentations. By this session, each team had a clearer concept of how they could best address their identified community need. Team Mission Possible presented ideas for collaborative STEM programming between school and public libraries. Their mission, as outlined in their poster session, is “connecting school and public libraries; providing opportunities for school age children to explore and have fun at the public library.” Video recording of Team Mission Possible poster session.

Exploring Innovation

Exploring Innovation

Team Del-AWARE envisioned and began the process to develop a mobile application that would assist Delawareans, particularly those in need of special support, to find up-to-date and essential resources. Resource categories mentioned in their presentation include shelter, food, health, clothing, and finance. The app would include direct links to the resources, as well as maps to display their geographic location. Video recording of Team Del-AWARE final presentation.

Each team concluded the 2015 Cohort of ILEAD USA Delaware with stellar presentations of their work – innovative projects that hold much potential for Delaware libraries and possibly libraries across the nation.

One of the most exciting aspects of ILEAD is that library staff used social media to connect with ILEADers from across the country. Nine additional states participated simultaneously in ILEAD 2015, which made for some inspiring Twitter traffic using the hashtag #ILEADUSA.

All videos from ILEAD USA Delaware can be viewed on the ILEAD USA YouTube Channel. (www.youtube.com/user/ileadusa)

ILEAD is funded by the Division of Libraries, with additional funding and support from the Illinois State Library and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

3D Printer Review: A Librarian’s Perspective

Written on: September 21st, 2015 by: Sarena Fletcher in Blog PostsInspiration SpaceReviewsTech

The following 3D printer reviews are from the perspective of a librarian trying to find the most suitable device for Delaware’s public libraries.

I’m not a mechanic. I’m not an engineer. I’m not a computer programmer. I’m not a graphic designer. I’m a librarian with a tendency toward tinkering and creative thinking.

 

Ultimaker Original 3D PrinterUltimaker Original (2013)

The Division of Libraries purchased eight Ultimaker Originals (UO) as kits, direct from the manufacturer in The Netherlands. At the time we knew very little about 3D printers and their assembly. It therefore took longer than anticipated to build and deploy the printers in the seven public libraries that volunteered to beta test this technology.

Assembly was challenging, especially keeping track of all the various sized nuts, bolts, washers, and laser cut wood pieces. The greater task was in calibration – making sure all the parts worked together smoothly. I contacted Ultimaker Support frequently. While they were very helpful, as of 2013 they were a small company located in another continent and time zone. At least once I had to wait nearly two weeks to get a response; their support staff were at a 3D printing conference. The ones fluent in English were unavailable.

In retrospect, I am glad I had the opportunity to build these printers rather than purchasing them completely assembled. I learned how 3D printers are intended to work, the proper names of the multiple parts, and how to diagnose the results when the printer is not working correctly. I now know which way the pulleys are intended to move, the direct effect of each stepper motor, and how one loose bolt can be the cause of a disastrous print.

These printers are ideal for tinkerers, those with the curiosity to investigate the cause of a failed print and not afraid to find the solution. The UO requires a lot of maintenance, tightening of bolts, and frequent recalibration. Unfortunately, this workflow does not fit in with that of a busy public library staff person. The UOs have created a lot of issues for the library staff all over the state. A number of the libraries with UOs have needed regular assistance with maintaining their printers.

Overall, the UO is an excellent machine to learn about 3D printing. Its open platform permits easy maintenance and the opportunity to upgrade for those who desire a dual extruder. It’s a hearty machine that with the right kind of maintenance and care can last a long time.

 

MakerBot Replicator 2 3D PrinterMakerBot Replicator 2 and Replicator 2X

Finding the UOs to be a poor fit for most of the libraries, we tested the MakerBot Replicator 2, which seemed to be the most popular brand and model in 3D printing at the time. We opened the large cardboard box, carefully removed the large metal-framed printer, discarded the packing material, plugged in the cord to the electrical outlet, and voila – we were greeted by the cheerful blipping of our newest device. The first couple of prints were smooth and beautiful. We were awed by the ease in using the mini LCD screen and SD card. An SD card meant freedom from having to tether the printer to a computer while in use.

Our awe was cut short at the first clogged nozzle, which was followed soon after by the next clog, and the next, and the next. Unclogging the nozzle is a tedious task that involves opening the extruder to clear out the nozzle and clean the drive gear (feeder mechanism). We have had to replace the bar mount assembly twice, and are now replacing the ceramic insulation tape a second time.

Diagnosing the issues with MakerBot Support has been a difficult process. Each time I opened a case it seemed they wanted to know when I purchased the printer, the serial number, the invoice number – overall too much information that they should already have on file. I opened cases to find they closed it before I had a chance to respond. I was not impressed. I reopened cases only to encounter a different support specialist and needed to recount the interactions with the previous support staff.

We purchased a MakerBot Replicator 2X, an Experimental Printer, at the same time as the Rep2. We were curious about the dual extruder capabilities. It wasn’t until after we unpacked this printer and began using it that we learned it is intended to print with ABS filament exclusively. So we purchased a small selection of ABS filament, enough to populate both extruders.

I never quite perfected the dual extrusion capabilities – only two successes out of numerous attempts.
In sum, I do not recommend future 3D printer purchases from MakerBot.

 

Ultimaker 2 3D PrinterUltimaker 2

By this time the Ultimaker 2 (U2) had been released for sale and had been receiving excellent reviews. Noting the “fair” experience with the UO and the poor results of the MakerBot, we thought we’d stick with the brand that was most familiar. So we tested a U2.

I had a limited testing time this printer initially. It appeared Ultimaker took the UO and upgraded to include the aspect of the MakerBot Replicator 2 that I disliked the most – the feeder mechanism. Despite my wariness, it seemed to print nicely. I deployed this printer to a library already familiar with the UO and the Cura software.  Staff there loved it. For one week.

I received reports that the feeder mechanism was grinding into the filament rather than pushing the filament forward into the hot end. These two parts are about one foot apart on this model. I proceeded to take the feeder mechanism apart as I would have for the MakerBot. I quickly learned that the U2 was nowhere nearly as friendly to the tinkerer as was its younger brother the UO. This was a closed machine; don’t mess with those bolts or you’ll never get them back in properly.

This printer continues to display the same problems. I just can’t get it to work right.

 

Cube 3 3D PrinterCube 3

The Cube 3 came to our attention at a time when we were frustrated with both MakerBot and Ultimaker and pressured to find a feasible 3D printer for the public libraries. The Cube is compact, sleek, and extremely modern looking compared to other desktop 3D printers of its class. It takes up a fraction of the desk space of the MakerBot Replicator 2.

The major selling point for the Cube was that it uses PLA filament that comes in a cartridge. Each cartridge has its own nozzle. Should a library staff person encounter a clogged nozzle, all she need do is switch out the filament cartridge and print. No more clearing out clogged nozzles. I have yet to figure out what to do with the remaining filament in the cartridge with the clogged nozzle. Those cartridges are expensive. That was my number one reason to doubt the efficacy of the Cube.

The Cube works exclusively with software provided by 3D Systems – Cubify Invent, Design, and Sculpt. These software packages cost money per license. Our intention was to test it at DDL then deploy to a library using a different computer. More money. With more intense searching we were able to find and download the Cubify app at no cost. My number two reason to doubt this printer.

After much frustration we learned that the Cube works best using Wifi. The USB port on the Cube serves no identifiable purpose. The Cube will not print from a flash drive nor by USB connection to a computer. It will not work with the web authentication required in Delaware’s public libraries. The only way we have managed to use this printer successfully is through its “ad hoc” feature, using the Cube’s own Wifi signal to connect to a laptop, from which the print file is transmitted. It’s all very confusing and in my opinion not worth the effort since the transmission fails at least 50% of the time.

I avoid operating the Cube.

 

PrintrBot Metal Plus 3D PrinterPrintrBot Metal Plus

We tested the PrintrBot Metal Plus at the request of one of the libraries. An enthusiastic community member who volunteers his time and expertise at this library recommended this printer.

Happily, the printer came fully assembled. It looks very industrial with its black metal frame and exposed wiring. Like the UO, it needs to be tethered to a computer at all times via a USB cord. Also like the UO, the recommended software to interact with the printer is Cura, though it’s open to other software options with which I am unfamiliar.

Also new to me is that the PrintrBot requires use of the advanced print feature within Cura called PronterFace. Other than having to learn this feature, the prints were smooth and nice the entire testing period.

I would be open to learning more about the features of the PrintrBot Metal Plus.

 

LulzBot Mini 3D PrinterLulzBot Mini and Taz 5

My favorite 3D printer by far (don’t tell the UOs) is the LulzBot Mini.

The Mini is very similar in appearance to the PrintrBot – black metal frame, heated bed, USB tether. Parts of the printer are clearly printed on a 3D printer.

Included with the Mini were all the tools I had to purchase for using the other printers tested previously – spatula, tweezers, Allen wrenches, and more. And some LulzBot swag which is always a nice perk!

While this brand of printer is open to various software, the recommended software is Cura for LulzBot – which functions pretty much the same as the Cura used with the Ultimakers, only it has a green background.

Changing filament is extremely easy and fast compared to doing so on the other printers.

This is the fastest printer I’ve tested to date.

LulzBot Taz 5 3D PrinterI’ve taken this printer on the 3D Printer Road Show and have not had any issues with clogged nozzles, bed recalibration, or the feeder mechanism.

I have already recommended this printer on several occasions and will continue to do so.

I separate the LulzBot Taz 5 from the Mini for several reasons. First and foremost, I have much less experience with the Taz. It is huge for a desktop printer, too big to carry around on the Road Show. It looks just like the mini, only larger. I will comment further as I continue to gain experience with use.

 



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