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Banned Objects Week: A Preemptive Defense of Intellectual Freedom in Twenty-First-Century Libraries

Matt Cook, Jen Waller


The rapid proliferation of 3D printing technologies across all types of libraries has put information professionals in a somewhat precarious position. Despite a rich history of defending intellectual freedom, and numerous programs that promote accessibility of potentially controversial textual material, little has been written or codified with respect to the librarian’s role as 3D printing gatekeeper. Yet freely available 3D models abound which might be deemed inappropriate, politically sensitive, or even illegal. This commentary proposes a proactive solution to the issue of taboo print requests: “Banned Objects Week”. Banned Objects Week—which can be implemented as a fully interactive online display of controversial 3D models—serves to demonstrate the power of this emerging technology while exposing practicing librarians and their patrons to a range of controversial but oftentimes legitimate (and definitely printable) physical artifacts. 

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