3-D printing available at Cranston Public Library

At the Cranston Public Library, you expect to check out a book.

You can also check out a movie, or even surf the web.

But now, the library has a $3,000 3-D printer.

Although some people have heard of it, many don't know what you can do with it.

3-D printers carve objects out of plastic. The machine follows a design plan put into a computer program. It follows the blueprint and creates a 3-D replica of whatever you want.

"It was exciting to be able to create your own 3-D objects. I mean we've never been able to do that before," said Julie Holden, reference and emerging technologies librarian.

Holden is teaching an introductory class to interested members. So far it's full and there's a waiting list.

"You can see their gears turning about what to make," she said.

However, someone could make a knife or a very convincing gun.

"I know there's been a lot of talk of making weapons. I'm not sure if anyone's made a functioning one. We'll look at that issue and have some safeguards in place," said Ed Garcia, director of the Cranston Public Library.

Currently, librarians have created simple things like figurines and a guitar pic. However, their goal is to teach people how to make things more practical.

The library just started offering training classes for its 3-D printer. Next year, it plans to offer monitored printing time to members.