Making Book History: Engaging Maker Culture and 3D Technologies to Extend Bibliographical Pedagogy

Courtney Jacobs, Marcia McIntosh, Kevin M. O’Sullivan


Once highlighted as a hobbyist’s novelty, allied technologies such as 3D scanning, 3D modeling, and 3D printing are fueling vital new advances in a diversity of fields: in biomedical research, human tissue is being 3D printed to form human organs; the development of 3D printed titanium parts in aerospace engineering will save airplane manufacturers millions of dollars per plane; and 3D printing allows mathematicians to create intricate physical representations of geometric models that are otherwise difficult to visualize. Though 3D technologies have only recently gained a similar foothold throughout the humanities, the results are no less encouraging. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these projects focus in large part upon furthering our understanding of physical artifacts. Recent examples range from detailed replicas of delicate fossils and high-resolution 3D scans of engraved wooden blocks to 3D models of damaged paintings and fragile medieval artifacts. Application of these technologies naturally aligns with the study of material culture, facilitating the understanding of and access to rare and delicate materials. The appearance of 3D technologies within special collections is thus a fitting development.

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