Positively Carolina: Horry County Libraries use 3-D printers to make ‘ear-saver’ straps for healthcare workers and first responders


NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Three libraries in Horry County are using their 3-D printers to make ‘ear-saver’ straps for surgical masks those fighting Covid-19 on the front lines are wearing day in and out.

“The loops don’t have to go behind your ear and it alleviates that pressure wearing the mask behind your ear every day all day; it puts it more so in the back,” Amanda Soles, the branch librarian for the North Myrtle Beach library said.

While the doors are closed to the public, employees at the Conway, North Myrtle Beach and Carolina Forest library are using their 3-D printers for the straps from the time they come in, until they leave.

“These are used mainly for educational purposes, but with us being closed to the public where they can’t come in, we decided we would take our services out to the community,” Soles said.

Hundreds of straps have been made so far and while they are available for anyone locally, there has also been a need across the east coast.

“Some have gone to Grand Strand hospitals, some have gone to North Carolina hospitals, a medical school in West Virginia and a hospital in New York,” Soles explained.

She says after they made several grey straps, they found a new heart shaped design they’ve been making since.

“We started making the little heart ones so we can say, we appreciate what you do and these are made with love,” Soles said. “Just to give them some support.” 

The libraries also started a pickup program this week. Those with a library card can go online, select their books and a pick up time and then pull into an assigned parking spot when they arrive. A library employee places all the items in the truck so the delivery is free of contact.

Once the customer is finished with their selection, they bring it back to the book drop bin. Employees collect the items, quarantine them for 48 hours and then sanitize them before putting them back on the shelves.

Soles said, before this began, library staff at all of the Horry County branches sanitized everything in their libraries.

“I think it took us the better of three weeks,” Soles explained. “We’ve cleaned and sanitized around three-hundred thousand items; including books, CDS, DVDs, audiobooks and different kinds of media.”

If you or someone you know could use an ear-saver face mask strap or E-library card, call your Horry County Library branch.

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