I recently had the privilege of touring Schaumburg Library’s new teen space. Teen Place is a new 6,000 square foot center packed with technology designed for recreation, study, and creativity. The space includes MacBooks, iMac Pros loaded with graphics software, SMART boards, a video production studio with green screen, DJ equipment, a 3D printer, collaboration spaces, and more. Here’s a few photos I snapped while visiting.
The construction of digital media labs or “creator spaces” is a growing trend in public libraries, a designated space where patrons can use the library’s resources and space to create their own content. Libraries are being transformed into community recording studios, public graphics departments, ebook publishers, video production spaces, and podcast broadcasting centers. Skokie Library has been doing something like this for a few years now and their blog is certainly worth following. Chicago’s YOUmedia is another example.
As a librarian I am often asked, “what are you going to do now that there are ebooks and the Internet?” Which is usually a nice way of saying, “do we still need you guys?” Its a question that can be answered about a million different ways, but the media lab trend is very exciting because it brings new applications of foundational library values of democracy, access, service, and lifelong learning– just to name a few. It empowers our library users to go beyond checking out materials and actually DO something with the insights they gain from those materials and the culture around them. We can be catalysts in what my hero Lawrence Lessig calls the “Remix culture.” Plus, who knows, there might and probably will come a time where we really won’t need as much shelf space for all those books. That’s not a knock against books, its a realization of how more people are accessing them. This is one way to legitimize a newly vacated space to our communities.
I look forward to seeing how Schaumburg’s teens use their new space. Now, to figure out how Schaumburg’s ideas can be applied to libraries of all shapes, budgets, and sizes.