Becker, B. W. (2016). To 3D or not to 3D: Is practicality the question?. Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 35(2), 83-86.
This article talks about the differing opinions concerning 3D printing in academic libraries. When a new technology is introduced into a library, controversy usually arises shortly after. One new technological trend is 3D printing. The maker culture is increasing in popularity, which is a do-it-yourself approach to creating objects with open-source software and hardware. Certain librarians have objected to this trend saying that 3D printing has nothing to do with the business of libraries which is information storage and retrieval.
While there is not much academic literature out there on the subject, academic libraries have started to use case studies to defend their use of 3D printing. The case studies have shown that 3D printing can bring more students into the library and introduce them to other library services. The studies also show that students are using the printers in direct relation to assignments and research projects and that their experiences can apply to job training.
The academic library is no longer bound to traditional information storage and retrieval; it has become in addition to this a collaborative work and social space. Students are using 3D printing to support their studies, collaborate with others, and visualize big data.
I think that libraries are certainly more than just information storage and retrieval and that an important emerging aspect of libraries deals with providing collaboration spaces and resources. Makerspaces, media labs, data visualization labs, and any other kind of technological labs will be of great importance to college students.