L.A. librarians use 3D printers to make face masks for health workers

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Signage outside the Richard J. Riordan Central Library is seen on May 19, 2005, in Los Angeles. (Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)

Signage outside the Richard J. Riordan Central Library is seen on May 19, 2005, in Los Angeles. (Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)

As Los Angeles libraries remained closed until further notice and free online resources remained abundant, librarians at the L.A. Public Library’s Octavia Lab began printing face shields for hospital workers, officials announced Wednesday.

Staff at the Octavia Lab – a digital media makerspace in downtown L.A.’s Central Library – began producing the headband and bottom piece of face shields Tuesday for use by L.A. County and UCLA hospitals, according to a news release from L.A. Public Library.

The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, a partner in the endeavor, is making the plastic shields that make up a part of the face shield.

The hospitals approved the 3D printed models as they face growing needs for personal protective equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

To maintain a sterile and clean environment, a limited number of trained staff are permitted in the lab to assemble the shields, the library said. Due to the high heat used during printing, the face shields are sterile upon printing and are then packaged for distribution.

“This innovative, out-of-the-box thinking exemplifies both our library staff’s commitment to serve and the spirit of the Octavia Lab, where our motto is ‘Creativity Within Reach,'” librarian John F. Szabo said. “We so appreciate all of the health care workers who continue to serve, and we are happy to do our small part to help keep them safe.”

Although libraries in the city and county of L.A. remain closed, online resources are open and available.

L.A. County residents with a library card can access free digital resources such as eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, movies, TV shows, music, homework help, online classes, language learning tools and more on the library website.

Those who do not have a library card can sign up for a temporary digital card online.

Throughout the closures, due dates for borrowed materials were automatically extended and no late fines were to be charged.

Patrons can still contact their local library on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for information, services and resources during the closure. Librarians will also continue providing assistance through telephone reference at 213-228-7272 and through the web-based service, Ask A Librarian.

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