Published: March 10, 2020

Sharing a tactile board book with preschool students   Finished projects with 3D pen enhancements.   Preschool students feeling tactile lines on a board book      

Phyllis Davis, librarian at The Library Station has pulled together a wide-range of community members through participation in her Build a Better Book programs. Without a designated makerspace, Phyllis incorporated BBB into a regular "Teen Night" library program on Friday nights, introducing Design Thinking models, and partnering with 3Doodler who provided an education kit with a set of 3D printing pens. With this core group of 25 teens, Davis connected with teachers in the Springfield-Greene school district and preschool students with visual impairments. The teens delved into empathy-driven design and learned more about the kids as "clients" for their Build a Better Book projects. Working throughout November, Teen Night participants used 3D pens to create tactile illustrations of children's books that were shared with preschoolers from the Shining Stars Early Childhood Center in time for 3D Giving day on December 3, 2019. This spring, Davis is expanding the scope of Build a Better Book again by reaching out to the Missouri State Libary for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Teen Night participants are developing tactile board games with BVI students working with the state library for an interactive game night with sighted and blind teens playing games together. Davis has also adapted Build a Better Book for a four-week afternoon homeschool program and notes the flexibility of the project in tailoring projects to siblings of different ages. In a conversation with BBB staff, Davis says, "The great thing about BBB is that you can take it where you want to take it. You can go through the whole design process with this project...[It] can be adapted to whatever format the library wants to do...It's something very motivating for students. The [empathy] videos really blew them away and made them think differently about the kids they were designing for."