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Access to free technology to help rebuild a life

Eric Berkey never really thought about the power of 3D printers until he became a paraplegic.

When he had use of all his limbs, he used them to the extreme. He captained yachts. He biked hundreds of miles. He worked ski patrol. Then came the spinal injury that put him in a chair.

Wanting to get active again, he got a hand cycle but his limited hand mobility made it difficult to use. He enlisted the help of relatives to make the blueprints for a hand pedal based on his instructions. After many iterations on the 3D printer at the Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common, they figured out a design that worked. That prototype became the model for the final wood version that enables him to ride his bike once again.

The Library Maker Lab, with high-tech 3D printers and other do-it-yourself resources on the third floor of the Central Library is very popular. The space also features a 3D scanner as well as materials needed for prototyping, fabrication, electronics, woodworking and robotics projects. These free services are so popular they have outgrown the space. Because of the high demand, the Library is looking to expand the Maker Lab into a larger, more visible third-floor space with a full-scale fabrication lab equipped with tools to design and create product prototypes.

The La Jolla/Riford Branch Library recently opened the first bio-tech lab in a public library. Demand for classes and use of the lab has been very strong, reinforcing the community demand for this kind of technology.

Additional support is needed to expand these services and bring them to additional communities.