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Boulder library community workshop develops personal protective equipment for hospitals, city

Team member Emily Platzer holds a box of face masks sewn by BLDG 61. (Zack Weaver, courtesy photo)
Team member Emily Platzer holds a box of face masks sewn by BLDG 61. (Zack Weaver, courtesy photo)

The Boulder Public Library’s creative technologist team, BLDG 61, is developing personal protective equipment in response to COVID-19.

The team has made dozens of face shields, hundreds of masks and donated approximately 5,000 pairs of gloves, 100 masks and 50 pairs of eye protection to Boulder Community Hospital.

“As makers, this situation is one where we naturally jump into action,” said Zack Weaver, a BLDG 61 team member. BLDG 61 is the library’s free community workshop, teaching maker education and technology to the general public.

“Collectively, we’re making immediate and tangible impacts on the health and safety of our community and really honoring the vision library leadership and the Boulder Library Foundation had when they created BLDG 61,” Weaver said.

In addition to sewing face masks and 3D printing face shields and mask straps, the team is working with Boulder facilities management to design and develop plexiglass barriers as protections for when city employees return to work. Local businesses like Trimble and Fancy Tiger Crafts help supply BLDG 61 with materials to make the equipment.

The team is also trying to educate the community on ways to help. Within days of the stay-at-home order, BLDG 61 created video tutorials and written designs for how to make face masks, posting them online in English and Spanish.

BLDG 61 member Emily Platzer has been a leading force in the team’s face mask production.

“There is currently an endless stream of requests for masks,” Platzer said. “Sometimes it is overwhelming to think of ourselves as individuals addressing such a great need, but I try to remind others and myself each mask we make is protecting a countless number of others.”

Platzer said much of the inspiration to get involved with COVID-19 relief efforts was from the vulnerability of the library’s patrons, many of whom have health issues.

“We keep making and distributing as many (masks) as we can without overextending ourselves,” Platzer said. “We do not yet see an end in sight and are sending love to all of our community, especially the vulnerable.”

To facilitate the collection and distribution of the personal protective equipment, BLDG 61 has partnered with volunteer groups Make4Covid and the NoCo Face Shield Project.

Omar Soubra from Make4Covid said BLDG 61 uses the organization to distribute its face shields. In total, Make4Covid has delivered 24,000 pieces of personal protective equipment.

“(Weaver) and his team are doing great there,” Soubra said. “We include them in our deliveries to medical professionals across the state.”

BLDG 61 is also creating content for virtual education programs with the Boulder Public Library aimed at parents teaching children from home, intending to foster community engagement.

“We’re so pleased to contribute at a time when everybody needs to work together to solve a common problem,” Weaver said. “And we’re so proud to be in a community of makers who have poured thousands of hours into these efforts.”

For more information about BLDG 61 or to get involved, visit their website at