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My desk has been cleared, my keys handed in, and a taxi called.  Just enough time for a closing post.  I’m not going to waste vital seconds making excuses for my tardiness.  Needless to say, any excuses would be lame and quite possibly made up.  No, instead I will focus on the contents of these boxes.

32 3D printer boxes

32 shiny new 3D printers ready for distribution to Scotland’s library services.  In fact some of them may already have reached their destinations.  Eagerly awaiting their arrival are 32 3D printing champions who have undergone rigorous training – well maybe more comfortable than rigorous – and are desperate to put their new-found knowledge into action. Two dimensions are no longer enough for these people!

Training for 3D printing champions

The 3D printing champions will introduce and promote this new technology in their library services – look out for this logo appearing at events and activities.

PRINT3D @ the library logo


And so once again it’s time to say cheerio – but I’m not downhearted.  As you can imagine, keeping this blog dynamic and up to date is exhausting, so I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks off.

Before I go I want to say huge thanks to my colleagues at SLIC for your incredible support and guidance, thanks to the 3D champs for your enthusiasm, and thanks to all the visitors to this blog – you can both go off and do something else now!

Best wishes



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I’ll start this post with the traditional apologies for the infrequency of my updates.  It could be said that it’s about quality rather than quantity – so sorry about that too!  It has been some time since my last blog contribution but as a keen observer of current affairs I’m happy to report that nothing has really happened in the interim.


Which means that I’ve been able to focus all of my attention on 3D printing.  As previously mentioned, I am currently working with SLIC on a Scottish Government funded project to provide the 32 library services with the resources they need to introduce and develop 3D printing activities. In earlier posts I’ve highlighted some of the creative and innovative activities supported by this technology that are taking place in libraries, so I’m particularly excited to see how these initiatives can be modified and refined to reflect local community characteristics, and perhaps to attract harder to reach citizens.

Just as exciting is the prospect that new and possibly unanticipated activities or events might be inspired by the introduction of this technology.  Often seeing the printer in action fires the imagination of viewers who envisage how it could work in a context not previously considered.

Each library service has nominated a 3D Printing Champion who will promote and support 3D printing and its associated activities.  These 32 champions will shortly attend training sessions to equip them with the necessary skills needed to realise the potential of 3D printing and scanning.

The 3D printer they’ll be working with is the CEL Robox, which I recently had the opportunity to test. I also took it along to a BBC Build it Scotland pop up event at Pacific Quay in Glasgow last month.  Children from Ibrox Primary School visited to find out about digital building, Virtual Reality and 3D printing.  The children used Minecraft to create local landmarks in a virtual world.

A couple of designs created in Dundee schools were used to demonstrate how the 3D printer worked.  I think this one of the War Memorial on Law Hill is particularly effective.

Again it was encouraging to see that there was a huge interest in the printer from everyone that saw it, and lots of ideas about how they could use it.

I’ll post again soon, but remember that a week is a long time in 3D printing.

‘Making’ it in Stirling Libraries


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The talented staff at Stirling Libraries have been busy promoting digital creation activities through their mobile maker space.  The library service made a successful bid for additional funding through the Public Library Improvement Fund (PLIF) in 2015, to develop a mobile maker space that would enable digital creativity through outreach.

The maker space features 3D printers and scanners, 3Doodler pens, laptops, digital camera, HP Sprout creativity station, and significantly, a camcorder.  Significant because it has captured some of the digital activities that have taken place so far.  The footage has been edited by library staff to produce this film – special thanks to Louise and Ray! 


Well done!

Hardware, data and quality jewellery


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As I sheepishly open my laptop and click the ‘Add’ button next to ‘Blog Posts’, I try to ignore the subliminal shouts of “Where have you been?” and “Call yourself a Blogger?”  And, as it turns out, I’m able to ignore them quite successfully.

But I do feel that the time is ripe for a little update.  As I mentioned in my previous post, the Scottish Government has recognised the potential opportunities that 3D printing, and its associated activities can offer, and have kindly allocated additional finding to ensure that all Scottish public library services can be involved.

In older posts I’ve already highlighted some of the activities so far inspired by the introduction of this technology and commented on their creativity and diversity.  More recently though I’ve been talking to library staff about the hardware, and finding out which printers work well in a public library context and what could make them even better.  It’s really interesting how quickly the technology is evolving, with new features and updates being introduced frequently, often as a result of user reviews.

These are just a selection of those I’ve had a look at – let me know if you have any thoughts, positive or negative, on any of them.

Printers for blog

Another thing I’ve been thinking about recently – yes, that’s two things! Is it any wonder that I don’t have time for Blogging!  Anyway, I’ve also been thinking about open data, prompted by attending an Open Data Training Workshop delivered by Urban Tide a couple of weeks ago.  It introduced Open Data and explored its potential benefits for organisations, using inspiring case studies, encouraging group discussions, and referring to the very readable Scottish Government Open Data Strategy 2015.

The workshop was very timely as I had just read about Newcastle City Libraries publication of open data sets, and a subsequent hackathon to explore how they could be used.  It encouraged me to think about the data sets that my organisation could potentially prepare and publish.  A lot of them are already in the public domain but just need to be converted to a suitable format.  I find it particularly exciting to think that, once published, they could contribute to something that had not been considered, or could be combined with other data sets to provide valuable insight previously unavailable.


Finally, and to return to the 3D printing theme, I took the opportunity to customise and print this beautiful ring design which I presented to my lovely wife on her birthday. 


It is cast in solid polylactic acid (PLA) – I have warned her not to get too near the cooker whilst wearing it.  3D printing saves the day again.

I must finish now as I need to buy some emergency flowers.

Blogging on the Edge


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I feel a real sense of shame as I look at the date of my last post.  It was so long ago that I almost don’t recognise the person that wrote it.  I had so many dreams and ambitions back then, and now I can’t remember what they were!   I think one of the reasons for there being so little recent activity is that I’ve been so busy doing work things.  Which doesn’t mean that I haven’t been busy doing work things previously but…I’ll leave it there.

So what have I been doing since the dark days of February?  Well I was honoured to be asked to speak at the Edge Conference in Edinburgh.

edge conference

Actually I was a fairly late replacement for another speaker who couldn’t make it, but I was still excited nonetheless.  I spoke about some of the digital projects that have been supported by the Scottish Government Public Library Improvement Fund such as East Dunbartonshire Libraries’ Green Screen project,

green screen project

South Lanarkshire Libraries’ DigiTable,

digitable project

and North Ayrshire Libraries’ award winning Apptitude and Appiness projects.

appiness project

I went on to talk about the relatively recent appearance of 3D printers in Scottish public libraries and the diverse range of activities that they have generated,  most of which have been documented in this blog.  And finally I emphasised the importance of good WiFi in supporting most of these projects.

When I finished I received a resounding round of applause, or perhaps, because I finished I received a resounding round of applause – not sure which.

print3d in the library

I believe we are just beginning to see the potential of 3D printing in public libraries, and thanks to additional funding from the Scottish Government, all library services will get the opportunity to participate in this pioneering exploration. I have begun a new secondment with SLIC where my role is to support those library services working with 3D printers, as well as encouraging collaboration and sharing of creative and innovative practice.

connecting the unconnected conferenceMy presenting abilities were further tested when I joined a SLIC colleague to talk at the Connecting the Unconnected conference in Dundee.  Again I focused on digital projects in public libraries.  I think that many of the largely non-library audience were surprised, not only by the range of activities, but also that this type of participation is taking place in libraries at all.  It is rewarding to be able to change people’s perceptions of libraries.

Anyway, I promise to be a more frequent blogger, although I may have promised that before?  If anything digitally exciting is happening in your library please let me know about it and I’ll share it with visitors to this blog.

CoderDojo – up to Scratch in Arbroath


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Many thanks to Paula Fenwick, Digital Training Officer with ANGUSalive, for pointing me in the direction of this short film of a CoderDojo session held in Arbroath Library.  The session brought together young people aged 7 to 17 to learn the basics of programming in a fun way, and perhaps even creating games. 

If I’m not mistaken some of the children are using the Scratch programming language which I tried myself a few months ago.  It merely confirmed that my programming skills are somewhat limited – probably because I’m just outside the 7 to 17 age range!

Given the current skills shortage in programming and software development, it’s great to see these digital activities taking place in libraries, giving young people the opportunity to try coding and maybe encouraging further exploration in this area.


print3d in the library


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In a rare moment of inspiration I thought of the title for this post, assumed I was the only person in the world that could come up with such simple beauty, and then had my confidence shattered by doing a quick Google search.  However I’m fairly sure I’m the first person to use ‘print3d’ in a library context…in Scotland?…this week?  I’m definitely the first, and quite possibly the last, to use this logo.


Anyway, I’ve combined my 3D printing obsession with Google Maps to produce a 3D printer map  (link at top of page). 


Please have a look and send me any information or photos, film etc. that should be included.

Happy National Libraries Day 2016


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Last year I marked NLD by blogging from East Kilbride Central Library, using the WiFi service.  This year I decided to stay closer to home and visit my local EK library in Greenhills.

I can’t even pretend to understand what’s happening here!  Apparently Greenhills Library is marking National Library Day by teaming up with The Big Glasgow Comic Page to present the first ever South Lanarkshire Mini Comic Con.

I have no idea what that means but there are certainly lots of visitors who do, and are incredibly enthusiastic about it!  I understand that the UK Garrison are here – thanks to free library WiFi I now know who they are, and I suspect I will recognise them when I see them!

It’s brilliant to see so many people here, and huge credit must go to the staff for taking the opportunity to promote all of the fantastic services that the library offers.  

And while I don’t fully appreciate the finer points of cosplay or Funko Pop (I thought that was the follow-up to ‘Yes Sir, I can Boogie’), I do enjoy my scran, so was delighted to find the Lime Deli counter, an opportunity to refuel before dealing with a couple of errant Stormtroopers and a fractious Dalek.


Well done to everyone involved, especially Heather and Audrey, in creating such a successful event! It finishes at 4 o’clock so come along if you can, or visit your own local library and see what’s happening there – not just for National Libraries Day, but also throughout the year.

Anyway, I’m off to boogie boogie all night long, but only if I can find a certain song.


WiFi Isles


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Many thanks to Helene Lagrange, Library Assistant and Digital Support Worker in Western Isles Libraries/Leabharlainn nan Eilean Siar, for sending me the following update about digital participation on the islands.  It illustrates how the introduction of WiFi can spark some really worthwhile activities.  Helene also highlights the part played by the SLIC Technology Petting Zoo, a collection of tablets, gadgets and other bits of kit, which gives staff and customers the opportunity to see what this technology can do.

I’m writing this email to you to give you some news of our latest digital activities. Since most libraries in the Western Isles now have WIFI access to the Internet, the service has been able to broaden its offer to the public.

We have now started digital drop-in sessions where people can come and ask us any questions related to the big bad digital world. Most are to do with their own devices -‘my son gave me a tablet for Christmas, what can I do with it?’- but we also get ‘how can I read e-books?’ and the like. poster of digi sessions at libraries

We hold these sessions every two weeks at Stornoway and every month at Tarbert. We had a session at Lionacleit that was very popular and more are planned there as well as in the library and in the learning centre on Barra. We are also organising outreach sessions in community centres throughout the islands. We had a session in Carloway (West side of the isle of Lewis) and are organising another one with the Happy Ness Senior Club (North tip of the isle of Lewis).

Having the SLIC’s Petting Zoo here with us has been a tremendous help for both the staff and the public. It’s been on display and well-used in Stornoway, Tarbert and Lionacleit libraries as well as used for the first Lewis Retirement Centre digital session (now held every week) and part of it is now on its way to the library on Barra.

We are also increasing the promotion of our e-book and e-audiobook provision. Having a WIFI access to the Internet in most libraries means that we’re now able to physically support the public in accessing our Overdrive and OneClickdigital platforms. Having been able to play with the Petting Zoo, the staff is more confident in dealing with different models of tablets/smartphones that we would not have known otherwise.

It may seem like a baby step compared to other library services but we’re very proud of it!

And rightly so!  This type of digital participation and inclusion is even more significant in a geographically challenging location where users don’t have the wealth of options to go online that some of us take for granted.  I don’t expect there are very many Costa or McDonalds franchises in Lionacleit!

Keep up the fantastic work!  And to end, another bit of Gaelic,

Mar sin leibh! (if I’ve caused huge offence to anyone with that phrase, please blame internet translation)

Omission admission




One glaring and quite frankly unforgivable omission from my equation for world class WiFi  – experienced, knowledgeable, friendly, empathetic and talented STAFF.  A bit like the ones you often find in public libraries.

So now, excellent performance + easy connection + good environment + 24/7 access + exceptional support when required = world class WiFi.

There, sorted…unless I’ve missed something else?