Archived Story

Library may offer digital media lab to residents

Published 11:04am Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Fergus Falls Public Library is hoping to soon take a small step into what staff believes is part of the future of libraries: content creation.

The city’s public works and safety committee approved on Tuesday Fergus Falls Library Director Erin Smith’s request to apply for an Otto Bremer Grant in order to get a portable digital media lab.

“What it is exactly is a lab that would provide the software and the hardware necessary to create content at the library, so things like videos, podcasts, animation, ebooks,” Smith explained.

Such labs are becoming more common in libraries throughout the U.S., and Smith said that local library users were introduced to the idea during the library staff’s “community conversations” about what form an upcoming library project should take.

“Many of the community members that were present at the conversation did express interest in this idea, and they were excited about the prospect of the library offering the equipment and tools,” said Smith.

A digital media lab might include a video camera and recording equipment, along with media editing tools (Smith did not elaborate on what exactly would be in the lab). The lab would also be mobile, freeing people to be more creative with their content creation.

Smith believes the lab would line up with the library’s goal of fostering life-long learning as it improves communication skills and helps people learn how to better interact with modern technology. The library has recently been expanding its digital sphere of influence with the addition of iPad checkouts, technology classes and forums and an expanded ebook selection.

Young adults are expected by the staff to be excited about the technology (a similar lab is available for students at Kennedy Secondary School), and Smith said the lab could be a boon for local business as well.

“(Conversation) participants felt that the ability to create content would appeal particularly to entrepreneurs, small businesses and non-profits that might be considering adding some of these technologies in their organizations or maybe would just need them for a small thing like creating a promotional video,” she said.

Smith expected the lab to cost about $8,000, which she hoped would be covered totally or in part by an Otto Bremer Grant, with the Friends of the Library group perhaps making up the difference. She will attempt to file for the grant by the Oct. 27 deadline or by a later February deadline.

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