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Iteration in Public Spaces

February 14, 2018

Definition of iteration:

1: the action or a process of iterating or repeating: such as

a : a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of operations yields results successively closer to a desired result

b : the repetition of a sequence of computer instructions a specified number of times or until a condition is met — compare recursion

2: one execution of a sequence of operations or instructions in iteration


·         the latest iteration of the operating system

3D printers give us an opportunity to exam intersectional librarianship and the concept of lifelong learning.  Public libraries are viewed as early literacy centers and places to read the New York Times bestsellers; however, they are also advocates for lifelong learning, which can be academic in nature.

3D printers allow anyone to take an idea, turn it into a file, and then print it out in reality.  At the first program where we encouraged patrons to create ornaments to 3D print for Christmas, I had an elementary school boy create a 3 x 3 inch city.  It failed to print the first time, but he came back and revised it and this time it printed a glorious blob.  Learning new skills involves a great degree of failure, and there are a limited number of places where people are allowed to fail.  Robert Rodriguez said that consistently failing better is what taught him to be a director.  Iteration is quintessential to the excelling process.

“The idea is speed.  We build a concept, test it, try it out, make mistakes, do corrections, and are always pushing to go even faster.” Rick DeVos, senior consulting engineer at GE FirstBuild

The fast turn-around that 3D printing enables allows patrons to draft an idea and iterate multiple times in the same day until they generate a working prototype.  Practical purposes include fixing dated appliances where replacement parts are hard to find, teaching basic mechanical principals and design, and creating functional and ornamental objects (, but 3D printing goes beyond the basic and has disrupted exclusive industries such as prosthetics.  Many public libraries use their 3D printers to make cheap and light-weight prosthetics for individuals who cannot afford the process (

“3D printing turns digital files into physical objects by building them up layer-by-layer…  It gives everyday consumers the power of manufacturing.”  Kyle Chayka

This is where academic learning intersects with public library patrons to create an environment of lifelong learning.  Patrons gain the opportunity to learn and master high level engineering but go beyond scholarly pursuits by empowering blue collar work.

“Even when they progress beyond the initial ‘wow’ factor of the infinite creative potential these devices provide, they discover additional layers to learn.” Brad Smith, Mount Paran Christian School


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