Illinois Library Embraces Crowdfunding To Bring Its Patrons A 3D Printer (And A Giant Hulk Statue)

Retooling the traditional public library for a more technically savvy populace is no small feat, especially when library budgets across the U.S. have been gutted these past few years.

That sad state of events has forced some libraries to take matters into their own hands. Consider the case of the Northlake Public Library in Northlake, Illinois — it wants to give its community (and especially the town’s children) access to a slew of new digital creation tools to help inspire the next generation of makers and artists, and it’s decided to turn to Indiegogo in hopes of making it happen.

All told, Northlake trustee Tom Mukite is looking to raise $30,000 to outfit the library with an iMac, a drawing tablet, a Wacom Cintiq display, a fancy lightbox, and (perhaps most tantalizing) a 3D printer for youngsters and local makers to feed their projects to.

In a bid to attract younger would-be readers, Mukite says the staff is also planning to use the funding to expand the library’s cache of graphic novels — there’s been plenty of debate about the value of these highly visual tomes as motivators for childhood and adolescent literacy, but the folks in Northlake firmly believe that they’ll help get reluctant readers devouring content as well as help improve language skills for non-native English speakers.

Oh, and then there’s the pièce de résistance — a nine foot tall statue of Dr. Bruce Banner’s green alter-ego hulking out, again meant to attract the kiddies. I’ll admit I don’t really get that part, but then again I was the sort of kid who needed to be carefully coaxed out from among the stacks anyway.

It’s not exactly the first time we’ve seen the crowdfunding model applied to spreading literacy — Cassandra Elton and a group of fellow University of Iowa students used Indiegogo to turn a wild-eyed idea into the roving Antelope Lending Library earlier this year even though they missed their funding goal by some $7,000. Northlake’s creation-friendly angle is an intriguing one — I can’t think of any child who wouldn’t like to see their doodles converted into a real-life action figure, and hooking these kids on the joys of making things could help inspire a new generation of designers, entrepreneurs, and engineers.

[Image via the Metropolitan Library System]