The idea here is that people go to the grocery store to get ingredients. They pick stuff up and they go home to the kitchen to create something out of it. We want our libraries to be places where people can create content, not just pick stuff up and go home with it. Two libraries: Arlington Heights (IL) and Barrington (IL) that have digital media labs talked about the implications of setting one up. They have things like video cameras, a midi keyboard, photo scanners, microphones, a green screen, and all kinds of cool movie, music, and photo editing software. Patrons can create all kinds of things in these digital media labs, from stop-motion videos to family photo calendars to recording music tracks.
My library has a multi-media computer with a regular (smallish) scanner and some extra software for projects like video and photo editing. People use it quite often for scanning photos or resumes, but I haven't really seen people doing big multi-media projects there. I think it would be really cool to add a better scanner, like one that can handle a stack of photos quickly, and also to market this service better. Without a semi-soundproof space, we couldn't do the sound and video parts, but in the immediate future we can look into upgrading what we've got. I'll have to see how much a few little pieces of cool hardware would cost. I have no idea how much things like 3-D printers cost, or photo printers, or how hard it would be to add these pieces to the existing setup. What a great collaboration effort with the IT department! If nothing else, people do scan a lot of photos and it would be nice to add a better scanner and software that will edit photos nicely. This multi-media computer is located quite close to the two computers designated for genealogy research, so that's a nice fit.
I attended this program mostly because I know the two presenters and wanted to say hi and be supportive of their efforts. They're both dynamic speakers and librarians, so anything they say is worth hearing. The takeaway from their program was that you don't have to have a fancy digital media lab like theirs (Skokie, IL also has one) or even a huge budget to be able to offer some neat multi-media solutions to your patrons. Some freeware and a $100 camera is a start! They inspired the attendees to think about what is possible in the realm of patron-created content. Allowing patrons to record music, and then circulating their CDs is really cool. Getting patrons to record themselves telling their life stories, and then circulating them on DVDs relates directly to core values like archiving and preserving our community's story. We can help them scan their photos, then create a community scrap book with some of them. Or we can just give them the equipment and some help to do it for their own, private use.
Either way, patron-created content is where libraries are headed. We do not have to be just rows of inventory, but we can be creative spaces.