Monday, February 12, 2007

Printed-on-the-Spot Books Are Given to Young Utah Students

Utah State University's Center for Open and Sustainable Learning Microlibrary has a 2007 goal of delivering 5,000 "printed-on-the-spot" books to Utah's elementary school students. In addition to getting books into the hands of young readers, the project seems to build an excitement about books in the classrooms lucky enough to receive a visit from the traveling print shop.

Project Director David Wiley Sr. manages more than 20,000 holdings - enough books to stretch the length of several football fields. Yet his "library" weighs fewer than 100 pounds and easily fits on a rolling cart or in the trunk of his car.

A laptop, printer, paper cutter, heat-binding tool and a DVD loaded with best-loved books - available to the public free through Project Gutenberg - combine to make the traditional Bookmobile look like a lumbering giant.
Gutenberg offerings - books with expired copyrights - are converted into a format that can be printed and bound inside of 10 minutes, Wiley Jr. said.

There's no need for a warehouse to store inventory and no cost to ship books, because the Microlibrary prints requests only - for pennies on the dollar.

“The whole administrative cost of cataloging a book, checking it out, getting it returned and back on the shelf is more than the cost of printing the book and giving it to somebody,” Wiley Jr. said. “So putting something like this in a rural library would be super cost effective.”

Technology continues to find new ways to put books into the hands and minds of young readers, ways that could only be dreamed about just a few years ago. Check here for all the details, including some great pictures, of exactly how this project works.


  1. It's neat to see this project getting picked up by folks from all over. You have probably already heard of it, but I also recommend for trading books. Still, nothing beats having your very own microlibrary :-)


    Tom Caswell
    COSL Support Engineer

  2. Tom, I really think you guys are doing something great with this project and I wish you all the best. Here's hoping that it catches on and becomes a long term benefit to students all over the country. Good luck.