Live in the Time of Coronavirus: Pt 10–Libraries

National Library Week 2020In honor of National Library Week

April 19-25, 2020
Theme, “Find Your Place at the Library.”


Libraries as Makerspaces play a vital role during the Coronavirus epidemic.

What you are probably expecting:

  • online books
  • databases
  • online journals and newspaper
  • e-audiobooks
  • online activities like story hour, writing classes, or book clubs

For an example of an online Australian Library click here.

What you are probably not expecting was libraries putting their 3D printers to use making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for hospitals and other first responders.

I first discovered this from reading an American Library Association article on the Monterey Country Public Library making N-95 masks.  From the little I’ve learned about these masks:  1) There are in very short supply and 2)  They are some of the most needed masks.  So this was a very big deal.

Monterey County library is making 3D-printed masks

3D-printed N95 maskThe Monterey County (Calif.) Free Libraries’ two 3D printers are being used to produce protective N95 masks while all of its branches are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The two printers are producing the hard plastic masks around the clock to support first responders and medical professionals who are dealing with the pandemic’s ongoing surge in cases. Each mask takes just over three hours to make and is designed to be worn multiple times by the same person. “We know there is a need for these, so my team tested the masks to pick the best pattern and materials and worked out the bugs before starting the printing work,” Library Director Hillary Theyer said….

Bay City News, San Francisco, Apr. 3

From a webex sponsored by the American Librarian Association,


I have found out that public and academic libraries have been making masks from the Toronto Public Library in Canada to Waterloo Public Library in Iowa for hospitals, fire departments, and other agencies. Different libraries are handling this in different ways. One librarian has taken the library’s 3-D printer home to make parts of face masks at home. The Toronto Library transferred it’s 3D printers to the hospital so the hospital could make the masks on site. In Monterey,  the two 3D printers “located in Soledad and Greenfield Branches and have been moved to the county surplus warehouse where the printing is taking place.”

Libraries that are doing this face several issues:

  1. Making masks that are up to code.
  2. Coordinating with an agency that agrees to use the mask
  3. Facing future legal ramifications
  4. Maintaining adequate supplies to continue producing the masks.
  5. Locating suitable places to produce and assemble masks if the library is closed.
  6. Paying for mask production.
  7. Deciding what to do with the 3D printers after the library re-opens.



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