April 16, 2020

Virginia Beach Library Staff Use 3D Printers to Create PPE for City’s First Responders

​Libraries are known for providing community members with information and resources that contribute to a high quality of life: books, technology, programs, digital materials, and now, much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for the City of Virginia Beach's first responders. Virginia Beach Public Library is printing about 21 face shields per day with seven available 3D printers. Controlled environments have been created at Central Library and Great Neck Area Library with staff on hand to monitor the printing, sanitize the pieces, and bag them for delivery to first responders. See the video story.

A conversation with the owner of a local 3D printing company sparked the idea for Virginia Beach Public Library to put its 3D printers to use while its buildings are closed to the public. "The business owner had equipment but needed space to produce protective equipment," said Director of Libraries Eva Poole. "We wanted to support the concept, but for safety reasons, could not offer space or bring in visitors while our buildings are closed. So, our quick-thinking staff members immediately began investigating how we could employ VBPL's 3D printers to produce equipment to protect Virginia Beach's first responders." Nicole McGee, technology training coordinator for VBPL, researched 3D-printed models approved by the National Institute of Health (NIH). She found a solution, identified and implemented by Columbia University Libraries, based on an NIH-approved model. McGee and a team of staff from across the library system began planning the potential production process for a 3D printed headband to be paired with plastic sheeting using weather stripping tape, hole punches, and elastic bands to create a final product.

The library team presented the idea to Erin Sutton, director of the City of Virginia Beach Office of Emergency Management, who supported the concept. Library staff began printing the materials and created a prototype that was delivered to the City's Emergency Operations Center on April 8. Members of the City's Occupational Health, Fire, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) departments reviewed the prototype and determined the shields would help provide a layer of protection for Virginia Beach's first responders.

About Virginia Beach Public Library

Virginia Beach Public Library includes a central library, a joint-use library in partnership with Tidewater Community College, seven area libraries, and a public law library. Services include workforce development and job-search support, small business resources, computer and technology classes, early literacy classes and outreach, and local history archives and programs. In addition to books, music, magazines, and movies in tangible and digital formats, the library provides online research tools accessible from home or work, and a variety of specialty collections. Visit www.VBgov.com/libraries for more information.

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Virginia Beach Public Library

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