The Octavia Lab team realized that there was a global shortage of PPE and following the ethos of the lab namesake, Octavia E. Butler, our team wanted to help. As previously reported in an earlier blog post, with encouragement from Library Administration and the Mayor’s Office, we have been making face shields for the medical community since April and with our partners’ and volunteers' help, we have donated to 20 area Los Angeles hospitals, with over 15,000 face shields.
How did the Octavia Lab, a space where library users experimented with 3d printing and dabbled in graphic design, become a mini-factory getting thousands of medical-grade face shields into the hands of hospital workers treating COVID-19 cases? That transition wasn’t easy and we fell back to doing what libraries do. We tapped into the community of users that has formed around the Octavia Lab. As library spaces go, we pride ourselves in our community connections that include our lab users, volunteers, nonprofits, and other like-minded organizations, such as other libraries, schools, maker groups. One of our big volunteer partners that we reached out to see the Science Department’s friends group.
BEST Friends is the support group for the Los Angeles Public Library's Business & Economics and Science & Technology departments at Central Library. The group’s purpose is to raise funds for providing financial assistance to these departments and to create awareness of the valuable services both departments provide. Because of the generosity of BEST Friends members and volunteers, they were able to provide funds for supplies outside of the Octavia Lab's budget to assist the face shield effort.
Additional support came through concerned readers of our previous blog post in April. We had library staff members 3d print from home. We had a volunteer in Boston ship us 3d printed face frames. We even had people donate us filament and an unused mattress pad for foam. We had a lingerie manufacturer donate elastic. We had teachers at schools with makerspaces offer unused filament. Our biggest donation was a brand new 3d printer.
As a thank you to all donors, volunteers, and supporters, the Octavia Lab created a documentary to describe our transition from library workers to community problem solvers. Mostly shot at Central Library using Octavia Lab’s iPad, with some interviews conducted remotely, the documentary is being made in house by lab staff learning the software for the first time. Spearheading the documentary production is Richard Acero, one of the Science Department Administrative Clerks. Acero has taught himself and the lab staff Adobe Premiere, for video editing, Adobe Audition, for sound editing, and Adobe After Effects, for motion graphics. According to Acero, "This project has been an example of the Octavia Lab's ethos at work. Having access to lab equipment and software during this transitional period has been a boon. The resulting documentary is a collection of diverse voices recounting how the Octavia Lab took on an unprecedented task; producing medical equipment during a pandemic."