Given the role public libraries play in being the lifeblood of local communities, the Hicksville Public Library is doing its part in the COVID-19 fight. Despite being closed to the public in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s mandate that all non-essential businesses/organizations remain closed, the library is using its pair of 3D printers to create to create personal protection equipment (PPE) like face shields for our first responders and staff at hospitals.
One of its 3D printers was lent to the Suffolk County Library System to assist in their efforts while library computer technician Dan Russ is using the second one to create additional face shields from his Levittown home. It’s a point of pride for library director Elizabeth Goldfrank.
“I’m bursting with pride for our staff,” she said. “Dan is so creative and inventive that I knew if I sent him out there, he would come back and start creating face shields on a smaller scale rather than just have the one 3D printer shipped out to them. Then he also met his counterparts, which is also a good thing.”
Russ delivered the library’s printer over to the Suffolk Cooperative Library building in Bellport, where a printer farm of 60-strong 3D printers that has already cranked out 1,200 face shields. Huff’s own organization, the Nassau County Library Association (NCLA) has already donated more than 700 face shields to different hospitals around Russ’ own home county. With two kids at home and one being an 18-month-old, the library tech’s going has been a little slower going, particularly given the fact that he’s operating out of his kitchen and that each mask takes about four or five hours to create.
“I’m only on 15,” he said. “If you’ve ever done any 3-D printing, there are supports you have to utilize supports so whatever you’re working on doesn’t collapse while you’re printing. I can’t tell you how many of these things I’ve ruined because I’ll remove the supports and break a piece off. I use a pair of pliers to remove the supports and if you’re not really careful, you break stuff. There was a lot of trial and error, but eventually we got things figured out.”
Among the local medical facilities that have directly benefited from the Hicksville Library’s efforts are St. Joseph’s Hospital, Manhasset’s Northwell Health and Cerebral Palsy of Nassau over in Roosevelt. And while the raw material for this type of PPE is literally coming from the kind of plastic binders/separators you find in file cabinet, Huff was nonetheless surprised at the reaction he got from first responders who were receiving them.
“When I’m printing these, my wife is cutting a piece of elastic for the band and I’m basically putting a piece of paper divider, like we use at the library, as a shield,” he said. “When I look at them, they look sort of cheesy in a way. I was essentially giving them to people I know in the medical field that weren’t getting the proper equipment and they were super appreciative to get them. I was surprised at how happy they were to get them because they didn’t have anything at the time.”