Taxpaying Public Can See Their “New Technology” But They Can’t Use It

While every nearby library offers 3D printer services, Escondido’s is for Display Only

By Rebecca Nutile

Like most kids, my nine-year-old son loves to build and create. He builds small robots, spends hours with Lego, and folds paper into amazing origami shapes. So when we visited the Escondido Library to sign up for the summer reading program, he was thrilled to see a 3D printer prominently displayed in the lobby. Its parts moved back and forth, slowly creating the new object I assumed had been designed by a library user. A prominent sign displayed on the front read “Do Not Touch.”

“When can I print something, Mom?”

“Let’s ask.”

Turns out the public doesn’t actually get to use the printer; they only get to watch it. According to staff, the public has NEVER gotten to use this printer which was/is touted as part of the New Technology LS&S would bring to our library. As of August 2019, LS&S has run the Escondido Library for over a year and a half, and STILL, patrons cannot use the 3D printer. However, that pesky fact hasn’t stopped LS&S from taking credit for the “new technology” they’ve brought to our community.

Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in actually using one, here are about 35 area libraries that allow the public to use 3D printers and most offer classes to teach you how to do it.

  • All 33 Branches of the County of San Diego Library. Branches closest to Escondido are San Marcos, Vista, 4S Ranch).
  • City of Oceanside Library
  • City of San Diego Library

Questionable Claim in “operational review”

When I contacted the staff, I was told they are hoping to have the 3D printer up and running “some time in September. But we’re not sure.” Remember, even if the printer is accessible by September 2019, it would be a full year and nine months after the library was privatized and LS&S took over operations.

From LS&S’s Operational Review’s list of highlights:

• Introduced new patron technology, including 3D printing and virtual reality

The fact that 3D printing hasn’t actually been offered to the public in any substantive way is an example of why it is important to verify every claim this private, for-profit company makes. It is the responsibility of the Library’s Board of Directors and ultimately the Escondido City Council to confirm every claim and made by LS&S. I sincerely hope they are not simply accepting the self-reporting of LS&S.  

Final Note:

My family continues to use the Escondido Library less and less in favor of the County branches. We often cannot find the materials we’re seeking at the Escondido Library, and the events LS&S offers simply do not appeal to my kids as much as those at the nearby County branches. I have heard the same complaints from others and often run into families from Escondido at the County branches.