Ultra-cool Library Programs

Posted: July 11, 2008 in instruction, library, technology
Tags: , ,

In LITA‘s Top Tech Trends program a couple of weeks ago, Meredith Farkas talked about the educational and technical roles that libraries can play in their communities. As an example, she cited the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. I took a look at the list of programs available in their Technology and Computers section, and they have a fascinating array of offerings. Here is a partial list of classes they offer:

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Wii Bowling for Active Older Adults
Video Game Design
Digital Photo Albums
Digital Media and Animation Workshop Series
3D Choreographer
Photoshop Summer Camp
Music Composition with Doug Snyder
Digital Scrapbooking
Machinima Camp
Open Source: GIMP
Scanning at the Library
Animation with Corefx
Digital Photography 101.

How cool is that? Digital photography, computer animation, songwriting . . . even playing games with the Wii! If this won’t get people into the library, what will? You really have to hand it to these folks. These programs cover a lot of territory and undoubtedly represent significant investments in hardware, software, physical lab space, and personnel.

This dovetails in an interesting way with comments John Blyberg made during the LITA panel discussion. John raised the issue of the library as content creator, not just content provider. In his comments he was specifically talking about the highly produced, professional presentation of most media our patrons encounter and how libraries’ presentation may or may not compete with that. However, these PLCMC offerings put a new spin on this idea by helping users create their content. Major coolness factor here.

  1. Carleton Place Public Library says:

    Major, MAJOR coolness factor. My question is….how do they manage to get such great funding and resources to produce programs such as these? These are wonderful and cover such a great variety of people and interests! I know we’d have patrons pouring in the door if we could offer a few events like these. We just have to convince the people that make the decisions about our library that these are the types of things that people really want.

  2. surferblue says:

    I actually wondered about the funding myself. I noticed that they have a Director of Community Engagement who is responsible for fundraising and development (among other things). I imagine that having personnel dedicated to fundraising plays into this.

    The music composition class particularly caught my eye. According to the information I’ve found, the instructor, Doug Snyder, is a singer in a band called Jelly Dots. I don’t know if he is also a library employee or not. If he is NOT, then that makes me think that this library has probably done a very good job of partnering with members of the community to provide some of these classes. Maybe they have a local camera club that is sponsoring the digital photography class. Maybe there is a nearby animation studio or graphic design firm that is partnering with them to provide instructors. That strikes me as being both a clever and a common sense kind of model, and perhaps something that I should investigate further!

  3. Carleton Place Public Library says:

    I think those are very possible reasons, yes. It is certainly something that all libraries could use as a starting point. Community resources are the best ones!
    Thanks for the ideas…

  4. Mary Kyle says:

    I can’t help but notice that most of those programs are featured at ImaginOn. This is a joint use facility for our Teen and Youth Library in the uptown area and Children’s Theater of Charlotte. The facility was built with a lot of grants from major donors in our area and I personally feel it was a great investment. ImaginOn was built with an Animation, Video and Music Production Studio and that has attracted some really good people to give high end workshops.

    Doug Snyder is one of those. We had booked the Jelly Dots for our Tricycle Fest summer concert series and by having the facility and hardware we were able to get the Music Composition Class as part of that deal.

    You missed another big offering we had in June when Sheila MacDowell, a former Hollywood video editor, offered an Advanced Video Editing workshop. I have to say we really got a treat there. I personally learned a lot and I’d been using the software and helping teens with it for nearly 3 years.

    I doubt either would have been on offer had we not had this kind of facility available.

    As to the other workshops there are a lot of factors but I’m sure our library administration’s vision of incorporating technology and innovation was a major factor. I feel truly fortunate to work in this environment.

  5. surferblue says:

    Thanks for the additional information! That does help clear things up a lot. The pairing of a youth library and youth theater organization is an interesting concept. Do you know if there are other groups that have followed this model either before or after your facility opened? You mentioned that you have been helping teens with the video editing software for several years. Is there a lot of in-house expertise for animation, audio, and video tools in addition to the special guests you have? I took a look at the website, and that’s a really slick-looking facility! I think I’d enjoy playing there. 😉

  6. Lori Reed says:

    Just to piggy back on what Mary said. We are lucky at PLCMC to have incredibly talented staff. Most of the programs you mentioned are done by staff who have hobbies or interest in that area. For example, the digital photography class is taught by one of our Youth & Outreach Specialists who happens to be an excellent photographer.

    It is a wonderful thing when you can incorporate personal passions into your job. It’s a win-win for everyone. The library benefits, the community benefits, and it makes you look forward to coming to work each day!

  7. surferblue says:

    It’s really fantastic that your library has found an outlet for channeling employee interests into such cool programs. That’s an area that is too often left untouched. In our library we have a couple of photographers and a number of musicians. Who knows what other hidden talents we might have? Tapping those employee talents is a great way provide new programs you didn’t even know you could offer! Thanks for the ideas.

  8. Patrice S. Hamilton says:

    Mary Kyle and I offer the Photoshop Summer Camp together. PLCMC believes in empowering the community through technology; like other library employees that are offering similar programs, I pull from my strengths as a graphic designer.

    I will be giving some ideas on how to use Photoshop Express in the public library at the Tech Summit this year. Someone mentioned making these slides available online, I’ll find out whether or not more presentations from our Tech Summit with be available on-line and post the link.

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