A Better Solution for Cleaning the Library

When I worked at the library, I loved my shift in the Children’s room. Especially during those quiet lulls that happened throughout the day, long after storytime but before the after school rush, or right around dinnertime on a weeknight. Downtime in the Children’s room was peaceful: a chance to read through gorgeous new picture books to put on display or pull for storytime; straighten collapsed shelves in the J fiction section and see which new series were gaining in popularity; and push in chairs that only come up to my knee. However, one task I never looked forward to was cleaning the play area!

My library had a variety of tactile playtime experiences and stations — from the stationary kitchenette and train table to the constantly rotating toy collection. Your library may have something similar, as well as brick-building walls, bead mazes, literacy stations, makerspaces, and more. Keeping these items organized could be a challenge, but actually cleaning them — really cleaning them — was a task unto itself.

I’m not arguing the importance of a clean play area at the library. Nobody wants to get hand-foot-mouth disease. Rather, the hard part was keeping up with everything that needed to be sanitized as frequently as required. The kitchenette was full of plastic pots, pans, cups, and plates, not to mention all of the fake food products that would find themselves under tables and scattered across the play area.

Throughout the day, staff in the Children’s room would spot-clean when a toy or block rolled through the dust bunnies under a shelf or a parent handed over an item still wet with slobber. At the end of every day, the staff person closing the Children’s room was also responsible for gathering loose play pieces and giving them a good scrub or soak to disinfect.

We used a spray bottle of cleaning solution that smelled strongly of bleach and left behind a sticky grime and the question of whether the item was cleaner before its chemical bath. Each piece was spritzed and wiped as best as possible, but objects have crevices that can’t always be reached. The larger play areas were wiped down with disinfecting wipes, but often required four or five wipes per surface to really clean away the grime.

All this to say, I was extremely excited to learn about the Vray UV Sterilizer which cleans and sterilizes objects in about 10 seconds. It’s cordless and portable, which means it could be used to quickly clean the larger surfaces of the kitchenette. The bridging design of the Vray means that it can be used hands-free. Each of those plastic plates and fake food pieces could be placed underneath in a cleaning tub and sanitized all at once, one side at a time.

Cleaning the play area was definitely what I had in mind when I learned about the Vray, but the very first thing I sanitized with the Vray was my phone! I’m sure you can think of many other items around the library that come into contact with the public. Patron computers… Books with unidentifiable stains… The phone at the Reference desk… The Teen room… Whatever you’re thinking about, the Vray can sanitize it.

Spend less time thinking about where those plastic pieces have been and more time flipping through the picture books.

Rhia Stark
STEM Specialist

Stock Images from Unsplash



A Background in Libraries

When I’m on the road visiting libraries, hosting workshops, or attending conferences, I am often asked about my background. People want to know what education or training I had to be able to “play with robots” all day. Many of them are surprised to discover that my degree was not in Engineering, but rather English Writing. My previous career path was not in computer programming, but in public libraries.

The shock is not just that my background is not a technical field, but how closely related it is to their own backgrounds. Some of my clients and colleagues ask what I studied with an expectation that it will provide them with an excuse, to give themselves a protective barrier of entry: “I can’t get a 3D Printer because I don’t have the skills to use it” or “I can’t teach coding because I’ve never written a code.”

When I share my own story and, after the shock has faded a little, they actually hear the answer they had been hoping for the whole time: You can do it too.
Incorporating STEM and hands-on learning into the library can be a daunting challenge, but it is not impossible. Part of the hesitation is not appearing like an expert when a patron asks a  question. Without the technical training, how will the librarian know what to say? After all, librarians are authorities on so many other areas of the modern library and most have the Masters degrees to prove it. I pose back to my clients and library colleagues that that is exactly why it makes sense for STEM learning to be in a library. When patrons have those questions, who better to ask than an authority on finding accurate information? The librarian does not need to know how to recalibrate a robot the first time a patron asks; they can look it up together — learn and grow together.

So while my background was not in a technical field as an engineer or scientist, I did learn a lot as a library professional. I learned how to host a program to engage my community, how to get to the heart of what my patrons were really asking, and how to assist them with all kinds of technology. These — not the technical skills — are the most important skills for hosting a hands-on learning program at the library.

In my current role as a STEM Specialist, I do not actually play with robots all day, but I do learn everything I can about all the products we offer and how best they can work in a library setting. I get to know the technical aspects of each product, but with the approach and concepts of a library professional. That means that my colleagues working in libraries can prioritize their day-to-day roles, and I can provide support to those wanting a STEM presence in their library at every step of the way.

Rhia Stark
STEM Specialist


Making a Place for “3D” in our School Library

Guest Post by Nathan Sekinger, National Board Certified Librarian and Teacher in Fredericksburg, VA and VAASL’s Librarian of the Year. He is a certified educator of Raspberry Pi, Makey Makey and Google Level II. He is also an educational advisor for Tinkercad. The mission of his middle school makers includes making, gaming, growing, outreach and activism. You can find him, photos, and project ideas on Twitter: @SekingerN.

As a middle school librarian, I am always busy trying to find the best ways to meet my students’ needs and capture their interest and excitement. I believe that a library should be a place of discovery and exhibition, innovation and connection. This is the story of how our library adopted 3D printing and how we use it today with great success to inspire both our students and teachers.

The 3D Printing Dream

Ideally, I want everything we do in the library to both help achieve the school’s instructional goals and also inspire our students to discover new interests. We often collaborate with classroom teachers to offer additional activities, such as reading programs or after-school clubs. After researching 3D printing and the principles of the Iterative Design process, I felt convinced that by adding 3D technology to our library, we could both support numerous classes and inspire many.

After a year of reading everything I could about 3D printers and trying out free design programs, such as Tinkercad, I was ready to make the investment of time and library resources. When I read Make: Magazine’s annual review of 3D printers in 2016 and saw that the IMADE3D JellyBOX 3D printer was rated the “Best for Schools,” I knew that it was what I needed. IMADE3D’S educational approach, treating the building of the printer itself as a collaborative learning experience coupled with the printer being open source (always a plus for a librarian), seemed like a good fit for me and my school.

Halloween sculptures with embedded LED lights

What sealed the deal, however, was the face-to-face build class I was able to take. In December 2016, my library assistant and I spent a day in Chantilly, Virginia learning how to build our JellyBOX printer with the IMADE3D staff.* I experienced firsthand how understanding the design of the printer would help me service and maintain the printer over time. By putting it together, I knew that I could someday take it apart and why I might want to. As the icing on the cake, the printer’s design allows it to be built, re-built, and maintained by its true users: our students. It was a long day of learning new things, but professionally it was one of the best opportunities that I have had to learn and grow. And, as a librarian planning to add an innovative technology to library programming, it was exactly the kind of handholding that I needed.

The 3D Reality

Display of various 3D prints and our JellyBOX


Day one back at school with our printer, we printed all the sample prints provided by IMADE3D. Students came from far and wide to ooh and aah over the rows of ducks and troves of fish we printed. And that lasted for quite a while. In truth, students and adults still come into the library and get excited over whatever is printing. It is a magical feeling to see a 3D printer at work. Now instead of ducks and fish, we print what our students design. Every day. Constantly. From collaborative lessons, in which we partner with classroom teachers, to our own maker programs, our students know our mission: yes, you can make something too!
our students know our mission: yes, you can make something too!

Here are just a few things we have worked on recently in our library: Designing Logos and The Outsiders, making the Deathly Hallows (see this Instructable for details) for our Harry Potter event, understanding the Printing Press and stamp making, Spinners Science Lab, and lots more. The Spinners Lab is a great example of how we are able to support instructional goals in the Science classroom with our 3D design program in the library (definitely see this Instructable for details).

Deathly Hallows Harry Potter design in Tinkercad

Students that drop by the library are constantly asking how and when they can use the 3D printer. We try to introduce our instruction to small groups of students using class time, after-school events, and even lunch programs. Once a month, we host a lunchtime class where I present information about how to use Tinkercad and how to send the finished files for printing. Some of our student experts also help us run these classes. Once armed with this knowledge, students can send us their files anytime. Many spend time outside of school designing in Tinkercad, then come to the library to get their designs printed.
Many spend time outside of school designing in Tinkercad, then come to the library to get their designs printed.

Makerbot gnomes: JellyBOX-printed, student-painted for a video project

Two years into our 3D printing programs, we are going strong with two JellyBOX printers. We still are constantly developing our skills in design and printing and our printers continue to be a large part of our library programs. They are probably the centerpiece of our maker programs due to their visibility and popularity. We still offer numerous reading programs and lots of instructional collaboration, but 3D printing keeps creeping into our daily routines, from making a dozen volleyball awards for our school champs to designing a display for our next author visit.

3D painted prints for an author visit to our school

I continue to be excited to offer 3D design and printing in our library because it appeals to students that might not necessarily show up for a reading program: more students now access our library resources. Also, we get to teach an iterative process to our students: that failure is good because it leads toward positive, better outcomes if someone is willing to put in the work. It’s a great lesson for school, for life, and 3D printing lets us start that conversation in the library.

Our middle school setup for our 3D printers

An example of the signage we display near our printers


Extra Credit: Tips about our 3D Printing Workflow

Example of spinner design in Fusion 360

While there are many design tools available, we prefer introducing our middle school students to Tinkercad. It is free, web-based, easy for beginners, and continues to develop over time. It is also a part of the Autodesk lineup, so as our students’ skills grow, they could move onto Fusion 360, another free program, in high school or even professionally. We try to teach regular classes to students or encourage our regular 3D makers to teach new students who drop into the library.

“Invention” and “Adaptation”

Prototyping fidget spinners

We introduce a strategy with our students of “Invention” and “Adaptation.” The Invention process means that students are planning to make something new using Tinkercad. This may start with a physical drawing before moving to the computer. Adaptation means that students may start with an existing model or someone else’s creation, then make adjustments to it. The student may find something on a file sharing site, like Thingiverse, download the file and import it into Tinkercad. From that point, students can adapt that file to fit their needs. This introduces a unique opportunity for collaboration and a chance to talk about citation and copyright.

Whether students invent or adapt, when they are finished, they export the file as an .STL file. We tell students to rename their files with their first and last names. Finally, we use a shared location on our school’s network to have students place their files – that’s all they need to do.

The Flow of a Print Order

Student-created project using Tinkercad, Christmas gift to mom

The two staff members in our library access the student-created files at this point. We prepare the files using Cura as our slicer. This allows us to manage the size of the file, look at the content, and make choices about its viability. We can shrink huge files or add scaffolding to challenging prints. If a file looks like it won’t print, we’ll make a note to speak to the student. We may prepare ten or so student files at a time, then put them on an SD card along with a sticky note with file names and print times.
put them on an SD card along with a sticky note with file names and print times

Throughout the school day, we will print the files on the sticky note, one at a time, and mark off the ones printed until the note is done. A few extra SD cards allows us to swap cards in and out as needed. Our printers are close at hand so that we can monitor them as we provide our other library services. Student prints are placed in a plastic organizer throughout the day where we will mark using a whiteboard marker the student’s name. Because of the regular traffic of the school library, students will pick up their print the next time they come in.

Student-created stamps for
The Outsiders project

Sometimes we will have dozens of student files to print, other times it will be just a few. Because the staff controls the order of printing, we can place school assignments ahead of other projects as needed. The more we offer classes and promote projects, the more student files get submitted. Just like with our library circulation, the more you put into promotion, the more the students will use the services.

Editor’s Note
This article is published in collaboration between IMADE3D and TLCSmartTECH. IMADE3D makes 3D printer builds and JellyBOX 3D printers specifically designed for education. TLCSmartTECH is a single source provider for library technology: from makerspaces to hands-on learning programs.

* This service is also offered from TLCSmartTECH. Click here to request more information.


Fundraising Your Makerspace

Have an idea to start or grow your makerspace, but don’t have the funding to make it happen? Here are three ideas to raise funds for specific makerspace projects at your library (no grant writing necessary).

First, pick a specific project or goal to help expand your makerspace. Clearly define your goal and the supplies needed to get there. How much will it cost? Are there recurring costs? Is it a reasonable amount to ask your community to donate?

Image originally from Pixabay, modified by author.

For instance, your goal could be to get more 3D Printers in the Fab Lab to decrease patron wait time and encourage community use. Or maybe your Robotics program is picking up and you need more Ozobots or Cubelets to keep up with the demand of the program. Or perhaps your patrons want to be able to explore STEM concepts at home, so you want to add Blocks Rock! or Circuit Scribe kits to your circulating collection. No matter your goal, make sure it is clearly defined and relates back to your patrons’ use of the library.

Now that you know your goal, market your fundraiser! Create messaging that explains what the fundraiser is, what the money will be spent on (include a picture), and how it will positively impact the patrons and community. Place signs at the Circulation desk and self-check stations. Print it on bookmarks and post it on your website. With a tangible outcome, patrons know where their money is going and the positive impact of the project. They will be more likely to donate, and your fundraiser will have a better chance at success.

To make it more interactive and successful, track your fundraising progress in a visible, accessible way. Include your financial goal and amount of money raised so far. This encourages patrons to contribute and see how close the library is to achieving the goal. Post updates on your website at the end of the day. Fill an incremented, clear bucket with pebbles or water for every $100 or $1000 raised. Post a whiteboard sign or easel at the front entrance, and color it in as you get closer to your goal.

So what does the fundraiser look like?


Fine Forgiveness Day

This fundraiser combines a standard fine forgiveness day with an alternative bookkeeping approach to raise funds for your makerspace project. Pick a day when all fines paid that day are waived in the ILS and applied as a donation to the makerspace.

Be sure to let the patron know where their fine money is going that day. You may be surprised at how many patrons are more inclined to donate beyond their $0.25 fine when they can see that every penny will go to improving library services. A few extra quarters toward new tablets in the makerlab? You betcha!

Image from Public Domain Pictures


Interactive Gumball Machine

Image used with permission from Jackie Derr (@jmderr10), the STEM Teacher at Perrysburg Jr High School, who got this idea originally from Design Make Teach and has the gumball machine up in the cafeteria of her school. Jackie: “I added the recycle bucket for the capsules and added printing puzzles to help the kids communicate/brainstorm while completing the puzzle.”

This idea works well for a long-term or ongoing fundraising project, since you can have the gumball machine up year-round to collect funds. Just remember to change the signage when you start collecting for a new project. This fundraising machine works by being interactive. Patrons insert money and get a tangible takeaway immediately.

Spend an afternoon 3D printing small giveaways or ask your regular makerspace patrons to donate one of their own small creations to your Gumball Fundraising Machine. Each piece needs to be small enough to fit inside a 2″ gumball container and should be cost considerate of your ultimate goal. Indicate on your signage that all prizes were created in your makerspace and all proceeds go toward your project goal.

If the idea of purchasing a gumball machine seems overwhelming or expensive (as many can range from $100s to $1000s), check out this DIY functional Gumball Machine, made out of cardboard! Place your small machine at the Children’s or Circulation desk. If you are able to obtain a “real” gumball machine, place it near self-check machines or in the library foyer or other high-traffic areas of your library.

Library Bookstore

Many libraries have a Used Bookstore, typically run by the Friends foundation. Find out if any of the proceeds can go toward your next makerspace project. If not all proceeds, perhaps for one month or one week out of the year.

At the South Charleston Public Library in West Virginia, the Corner Bookstore is hard to miss when you walk in the front doors. Bookstores turn donated books into a fundraising opportunity, with the help of volunteers to sort and price every item

Director Todd Duncan shared, “Our corner bookstore generated $25,313 in revenue for the library. We budgeted for $19,000 so any excess goes into our Foundation account. We put the rest back into our general fund which is used for materials and programming.”

In addition to the usual donations of books and magazines, South Charleston Public Library also receives several other valuable donations, some of which are even listed and sold online, thereby increasing visibility of their merchandise and bringing in additional revenue for programs. Todd says that “$4,334 of our total sales were from online sales.”


Image taken by the author and used with permission from Todd Duncan, Director of South Charleston Public Library.

Fundraising doesn’t need to be complicated; it just needs to be intentional. Now that you have some ideas about how to raise money for specific projects, let us know what other fundraising events and strategies have been successful for you and your library.

Rhia Stark
STEM Specialist


Privacy Policy

TLC’s Community Analytics Privacy Statement

Revised: May 19, 2015

TLC’s Use of Google Analytics

The Library Corporation (TLC) uses Google Analytics to gather anonymized data about the use of LS2 PAC, LS2 Staff, LS2 Kids, and L•S Preferences. We use this information for the sole purpose of continuing to make our products better. We do not use Google Analytics to gather information about any specific user. We will never sell or share any data we gather through Google Analytics with any third party except where that party is engaged in helping us improve our products; for example, we might share usage data with a usability expert.

We have configured Google Analytics to gather data from your LS2 PAC, LS2 Staff, LS2 Kids, and L•S Preferences and send it to a Google Analytics account that aggregates data from all of our customer’s sites.

Beginning with LS2 PAC version 1.16, LS2 Staff version 1.2.004, LS2 Kids version 2.8.0, and L•S Preferences version TLC’s Community Analytics is available on an Opt-in basis. If, at any time, your library would like TLC’s Community Analytics enabled, you may contact the TLC Support Department to have us turn it on. You may also use the Online Support Center (OSC) to advise TLC to enable this analysis.

Information Gathered

TLC will use Google Analytics in LS2 PAC to look for patterns in how a borrower is using the LS2 PAC site; in LS2 Staff to review what areas a user puts into practice; in LS2 Kids to understand how a child is using the application, and in L•S Preferences to understand what areas in L•S Preferences a user accesses for set up or changes to their library’s policies. Any personal information specifically pertaining to the user in these referenced products (such as IP address, name, borrower ID, or any account information) will not be captured.

The following areas have been set up for statistical tracking in LS2 PAC v1.16: Title Details (Description, Copies, Reviews, More Info, MARC Record tabs), Account Drawer (My Lists, My Saved Searches, My Account), Databases (EBSCO, Britannica, NewsBank), Display Case, Browse, Searching, Book River (Timeouts/Refresh).

The following areas have been set up for statistical tracking in LS2 PAC v 2.0: Title Details (Details, All Copies, Reviews, Related, More Info), Account (Saved Lists, Saved Searches, Loans, Holds, Fines), Searching, Branch Limiting, Language, Refinements, and Layout Options.

The following areas have been set up for statistical tracking in LS2 PAC v3.1: In addition to those areas covered in LS2 PAC v2.0 Advanced Searching, and Browse Virtual Shelf (clicks on book jackets and spines along with title details).

The following areas have been set up for statistical tracking in LS2 Staff: Searching for Borrowers or Titles, Use of links in Borrower Summary, Main buttons under Borrower Services and Staff Services, Sub tabs (Borrower Info, Charges, Requests), Subject Headings (additions), Messages, Item Transfers (selected types), Self Service (usage and type).

The following areas have been set up for statistical tracking n LS2 Kids v 2.8.0: Searching for titles, categories, or series, Title Details (Copies, Summary, Details, related links), placing holds, Log In, Log Out, discovery/exploratory clicks (on Scout, additional links, change from categories to series or series to categories, spelling suggestions and paging).

The following areas have been set up for statistical tracking in L•S Preferences v4.2.9.6: Login and reference to any L•S Preferences Menu options utilized.

Use of First Party Cookies

In gathering the information in LS2 PAC, LS2 Staff, LS2 Kids, and L•S Preferences, Google Analytics employs first party cookies. The same domain where the web page resides sets the first party cookies. For example, if a borrower utilizes www.ls2pac.com, only the web site www.ls2pac.com has access to the cookies.

Many sites use third party cookies. In these cases, a web server that is not on the same domain as the web site issues the cookies. For example, a borrower may visit www.ls2pac.com, but the cookie is issued from www.google.com where Google would be the owner of the cookie. This approach is significantly more susceptible to abuse.

Using first party cookie tracking is more secure with less accessibility to the issued cookies. This is the primary reason that TLC only utilizes first party cookies.


Security measures are in place to protect against the misuse of any information by TLC. Passwords are required to view any collected data and access is limited to those individuals who need to view the content to perform the analysis. Google Analytics also provides a Privacy Policy regarding how information is handled at their end. Google’s Privacy Policy can be viewed athttp://www.google.com/intl/en/privacy/privacy-policy.html.

Policy Updates

This policy will be reviewed periodically and any modifications or revisions will be formally announced. Please check back periodically for any revisions made to the policy. Prior versions will be archived for your review.


TLC’s Community Analytics Privacy Statement – Current

TLC’s Community Analytics Privacy Statement – Version 5

TLC’s Community Analytics Privacy Statement – Version 4

TLC’s Community Analytics Privacy Statement – Version 3

TLC’s Community Analytics Privacy Statement – Version 2

TLC’s Community Analytics Privacy Statement – Version 1

TLC’s Community Analytics Privacy Statement – Original

Contacting TLC

If you have any questions or concerns about this privacy statement, or areas being tracked, please e-mail TLCGAMetrics@tlcdelivers.com.