Wilton Library may not be classified as an “essential” business in today’s pandemic environment, but the library’s 3D printer is definitely an essential piece of equipment in supporting the frontline healthcare professionals at Norwalk Hospital/Nuvance Health.
While Wilton Library staff have been busy redesigning programs and services to virtual platforms to support the community at large, consideration also was given to how best to use the library’s Innovation Station technologies and staff skills to help in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past week, the library’s 3D printer has been churning out the headpieces for face shields, one type of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that is crucial for medical staff safety in doing their jobs.
After testing the 3D printer capabilities to make face shields, the library’s technology staff worked with Dr. Saras Nair, former chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Norwalk Hospital and a trustee of the Wilton Library Association. Nair then checked if the prototype would be approved for use at Norwalk Hospital, a program partner for the library’s health and wellness lecture series.
Once approved, the production began with Michael Franco, husband of Mary Anne Mendola Franco, the library’s assistant director, technology, taking the lead.
Elaine Tai-Lauria, executive director of Wilton Library, thanked several people who are making the effort happen.
“We are particularly grateful to Mary Anne and her husband Michael who worked with Thomas Kozak of Wilton Library’s technology team to develop the prototype. Michael has since volunteered to single-handedly manage the production of printing the face shields at home, which is practically a 24/7 assembly line,” she said.
Thanks also are being given to Phil Lauria, Elaine’s husband, who is covering the project’s expenses so that the library would not have to bear them. Dr. Nair and her husband, Dr. Kesav Nair, who are both on staff at Norwalk Hospital, also are donating funds for this critical endeavor.
The first batch of what will be 500 face shields was delivered to Norwalk Hospital on Tuesday, with more being produced each day.
“We are so proud of what this library has accomplished in continuing to respond to the intellectual needs of the community. Since our closure, patrons have more than doubled their usage of our digital services, and our new virtual programs are exceeding capacity. While working from home, library staff have been communicating regularly with patrons, providing new digital resources, producing virtual storytimes, literary programs and business seminars, as well as providing individual information assistance, and now we can add that we are helping to protect our vital medical personnel,” Tai-Lauria added.
The round-the-clock usage of the 3-D printer will take its toll on the machine.
“It’s a certainty that we will need a new 3D printer for Singularity Technology, our CT State Champion robotics team when we finally are able to open our doors,” Tai-Lauria said. “But most important, we look forward to seeing our patrons again.”
Wilton Library is a nonprofit organization and is the intellectual and cultural center in the heart of the community at 137 Old Ridgefield Road in Wilton, CT. For information, please visit the library’s website. To support the programs and services Wilton Library is providing, please click the Donate Now button on the website.