Monday, July 15, 2013

Digital Media Labs

The best session that I attended was a preconference on digital media labs.  I took eight! pages of notes, that I will try to summarize here.

Digital media labs can be used to create videos and music, but also to self-publish ebooks, create animation, and digitize photos/slides/VHS tapes.  Presenters from five libraries all commented that they were surprised to find the most popular activity is converting VHS tapes to DVD!  Use also skewed much older than they predicted:  while teens like creating videos and music, seniors like digitizing old photos, and many adults just want to update their skills for the job market.  They gave five reasons for starting a digital media lab:

  1. Support digital literacy in the community.  Support kids' homework projects and help job-seekers update their skills.
  2. Support local businesses (e.g. business owners who want to create promotional videos).
  3. Create community: digital media labs encourage people to work together.
  4. Increase civic engagement.  Libraries usually distribute outside content to their communities.  We need to be distributing community content to the outside world.
  5. Share library projects (e.g. broadcast storytimes and programs on our website).
The best thing about digital media is that it's scalable.  You can fit a lab into a small space or unused closet.  A lot of software is available for free.  

Here are a few ideas I thought we could try for little or no money, without even having a separate lab space:
  • Install Scratch, free animation software, on the YS computers, so kids can learn to create their own animation and online games.
  • Add a photo scanner to our microfilm machine, so patrons can scan old photos and slides and save onto a USB drive.
  • Install Gimp, free photo-editing software, on the Adult computers, so patrons can edit the photos they've scanned in.  They can also learn Gimp and install it at home if they like it.
  • Purchase a $200 VHS-to-DVD converter for patrons.
There are lots more ideas that are easy to implement!  I can't wait to try some of them.

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