Libraries as Creative Spaces

Mar 16th, 2012 | By | Category: Great Ideas from Past Programs, Technology Blog

It’s a story those working in libraries have heard before: these are uncertain times for the library. The increasing popularity of eBooks and streaming movies online calls into question the traditional library model. Will people still want regular books? Will people still checkout DVDs?

I think we can all agree that, for the foreseeable future, the answers to those questions are the same: yes. However, there is no doubt that libraries as an institution have reached a point where a moment of introspection and analysis of purpose is needed. Instead of channeling our inner Chicken Littles, perhaps we should call on our inner Bob Dylans instead, because times definitely are a changin’.

Library innovators have long been discussing how to adjust and refocus the library to address patrons’ and communities’ changing needs. One that’s currently gaining ground is the library as creation space. The way to start? Creating a digital media lab!

Once only seen in academic libraries, digital media labs (DML) have been popping up in public libraries around the country. In northern Illinois, several DMLs are up and running, serving as creative spaces for patrons to make everything from a photo slideshow with music to a school project involving a green screen and advanced video editing. Here are a few Chicagoland DMLs that are working to transform the library into a creative space.

Skokie Public Library
The oldest of the bunch, Skokie started their DML in 2009 and offers four Apple workstations, video and sound equipment, and a large green screen wall for filming.

Barrington Area Library
The lab at BAL has a single workstation with dual monitors and offers online tutorials via Atomic Learning.

Ela Area Public Library
Two separate spaces are available offering filming, recording, and editing equipment.

Blue Island Public Library
Merging a huge studio space with their already formidable local history museum, Blue Island has created a unique space designed to encourage creativity among groups while still allowing for individual work.

Franklin Park Library
Versatile and equipped to meet users’ needs, the newest DML to join the group highlights freeware and encourages creativity.

Interested in learning more about DMLs? Register today for the Laconi Technology section’s upcoming program, Building a Digital Media Lab: Libraries as Creative Spaces, April 20 at Fountaindale Public Library District.

Carolyn Ciesla
Web Liaison
LACONI Technology

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