San Mateo County Libraries Helps County Fight Against Coronavirus


Media Contacts:
Katie Woods, Communications Manager
San Mateo County Libraries
(650) 556-5209

SAN MATEO, CA —County librarians are on a new mission to help fight COVID-19. Their latest innovation— using 3D printers to create face shields and ear savers to help protect front line medical staff.

As the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) grew with the rise of COVID-19, San Mateo County Libraries staff moved quickly to aid its community by working closely with the County’s Health Department and Emergency Operations Center.

“Libraries’ innovation in using their printers to create this critical resource is phenomenal and testament to its ongoing commitment to serve the residents of our county,” said County Manager Mike Callagy. “The response to COVID-19 is bringing out the innovative spirit in many and I am so proud of our library staff.”

With more than a dozen 3D printers and a new taskforce dedicated to the effort, library staff have already printed over 300 ear savers and hope to print and deliver over 600 face shields in the coming weeks. Each shield takes approximately 40 minutes to create, and the ear savers can be printed in as little as 10 minutes.

“When our libraries were open, our 3D printers were in high demand. Now, our 3D printers continue to be hard at work churning out vital equipment for our front-line healthcare staff,” said Anne-Marie Despain, Director of Library Services. “We’re happy to find a creative way to put our machines to good use, and we’re extraordinarily grateful for our County health care workers.”

When wearing them all day, many masks put pressure on the head and rub uncomfortably against the ears. Originally designed by a 12-year-old boy scout, opens a new window the ear savers are adjustable and make masks more comfortable.

The face shield, which suspends clear plastic in front of the wearer’s face, adds a secondary protection layer to prevent respiratory droplets from reaching the wearer’s eyes or mouth. The design is based on an open-source online design file.

San Mateo County Libraries are also reaching out to City libraries with 3D printers to join the effort. So far, six other library systems have teamed up and are working off the same approved design files to create protective gear.

3D printer photos and video: available here, opens a new window

Although the libraries’ physical doors are closed, they are staying available to the community in many ways, touting virtual staff-led events, online resources, and digital titles like eBooks and streaming movies.

About San Mateo County Libraries
San Mateo County Libraries is a Joint Powers Authority that comprises the cities of Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Millbrae, Pacifica, Portola Valley, San Carlos, Woodside, and the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County. San Mateo County Libraries ignite growth through transformative experiences. Visit for information about our extensive digital and physical collections, twelve community libraries, Bookmobile, Lookmobile and the 12,000+ workshops, classes, concerts, readings, and other activities offered annually.