Making Connections 3D printing, Libraries and augmenting their reality
Digital technologies have initiated a global shift in the way we conceive, configure, and exchange information. This shift is occurring on many levels and is impacting the way many organisations operate; including Libraries. “Individuals and organizations now have many sources alternative to those provided by libraries, which would suggest that the role of libraries is shrinking. However, libraries are expanding to include a wider array of services, such as providing digital libraries and support for distance learning” (Borgman, 2003, p. 653). As they continue to re-examining their role, many libraries are currently exploring 3D printing in the form of “makerspaces” in an attempt to engage people in the library environment. Doing this raises the question “But why exactly is it appropriate for a library service to provide 3D printing?” (Rundle, 2013). In response to the question, this thesis explores the role that 3D printing may take in making connections between collections and people in new and interesting ways, beyond the typical application as a “makerspace” (Cavalcanti, 2013). In doing so it acknowledges that 3D printing does not exist in isolation and that its real potential to enhance both content and collections might best be realised in combination with the many other forms of 3D and 4D digital media and systems that are emerging at an exponential rate. This thesis speculates on what that potential may be, through a series of design scenarios that simulate future possibilities of 3D printing and Augmented Reality. The National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa provides the context for this exploration and the opportunity to demonstrate how revisiting their collections with reference to these new technologies can empower its mandate to “collect, connect and co-create knowledge to power New Zealand” (National Library of New Zealand, 2015).