Hugh Murphy & Michael Leigh, Maynooth University


Title; Breaking the Third Dimension: Bringing 3d Printing to the Library 

Abstract:  Hackerspaces…FabLabs…Makerspaces.  Although the technology behind 3d printing is not new, it has taken some time for it to migrate from public libraries, and academic departments into academic libraries. This is changing however, and such facilities are increasingly common in libraries in the USA and UK.  Academic libraries in Ireland are following suit, generally by collaborating and forming partnerships both on and off campus.

In 2014 Maynooth University Library began taking its first steps in this new environment, collaborating with colleagues on campus with a view to enhancing the Library’s role in provision of 3d printing as a service.  As with so many services, the Library as a neutral, welcoming space can bring very distinct transferable skills to providing a facility which, while in many ways ‘dynamic’ and ‘cutting edge’, is perhaps surprisingly similar to what we already do.

This case study will detail:

  • The rationale for library involvement

  • Previous examples and lessons learned from our research

  • On campus collaboration – what colleagues think and what we have learned

  • Benefits and challenges in provision of this type of service

This case study will address a practical, technology focussed issue, but in the context of collaborative service provision in a way that will, hopefully stimulate discussion in this burgeoning area and provide helpful advice to any other group looking to progress a similar service. 


About Hugh: Hugh was appointed Senior Librarian, Collection Management Services in October 2010, having worked previously in University College Dublin Library and in the National Library of Ireland.   Since 2005 he has acted as an occasional lecturer in the School of Information and Library Studies in UCD, teaching resource description, organisation of information, and in the past, social networks and Web 2.0. He also lecturers on Maynooth University’s MA in Historical Archives.  Hugh’s main professional interests lie in the areas of library buildings, development of resource description, and development of  collection development in different contexts. 

Contact: @hughtweet 


About Michael:  Michael studied Computer Science and Software Engineering in Maynooth University and has over eight years’ experience working in IT. He is currently working in Library IT Development with a focus on innovation and support. Recent projects he has been involved in include: implementing a library discovery tool, customising libguides and the capturing of digitised and born digital audio from the Library’s collections