While Arlington Public Library has offered public computing since 1995, the experience has been kept to the all-important basics–Internet, word processing, printing–plus a host of tech classes for getting started.
This April we’ve rolled out the region’s first Digital Projects Lab, for those who have the needs and skills–but not the creative resources–to take the next step.
What can you create in the Lab?
Whether it’s a photo-video-and-sound wedding album, a small business graphic design campaign, plant growth animation for a science fair or a civic association enewsletter/podcast, you’ll be able to realize your vision with the kinds of software and hardware Library users have sought for years.
Why the Library?
PhotoShop and Flash may be household words but they’re rarely found in homes when cost and frequency of use get factored in. Add the need for a scanner, quality microphone or maybe a “green screen” for video backgrounds and it’s clear why so many great DIY media projects are never made.
Arlington Public Library has been at the forefront of meeting public needs with contemporary technologies, whether it’s through online language courses, downloadable books, premium web sites like Consumer Reports–or even the Washington area’s first library VCR back in 1971.
The Digital Projects Lab continues that mission of shared public resources building new connections to knowledge. We’re a lot more than the local copy shop.
How do you use the Lab?
The Lab launches in April as a temporary “pop-up shop” on the first floor of Central Library. This pilot phase, through June, will allow staff to see what systems are most in demand and what kinds of work stations are most effective. The Lab will be open 20 hours per week and sessions will be 2 hours in length, although that time could be extended if no one is waiting.
The majority of Lab equipment and software was already owned by the Library for technical support and now will serve a second role during public hours.
Because the Lab is aimed at the intermediate and advanced user, you’ll need to be fluent in the technology. Users will know the tools from work, school, community courses or self-study, but the Library will also be evaluating possible on-site classes.
Staff will be on hand for basic assistance during Lab sessions and there also will be a small collection of guidebooks for reference.
The Library will host an open focus group on May 9 at 7 p.m. so potential users and others can weigh in on future direction of the Lab. All are enthusiastically invited. RSVPs requested.
Advanced reservations will be required for use of the Digital Projects Lab. The Library will begin accepting reservations online, at service desks and by phone beginning in early April so be sure to watch the Library website, Twitter and Facebook feeds for updates.
What kinds of things will be in the Lab in April?
Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, In Design, Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks; Final Cut Pro, Audacity, iMovie.
Mac Book, large monitor, webcam, microphone, video camera, tripod, large color printer, film/negative/photo scanner, memory card reader, Wacom Intuos 3 mouse/digitizer/sylus.
How do I learn more about the Lab?
Watch the Library website, Twitter and Facebook feeds and plan on joining us May 9 for a tour if you’re not ready for a project session. Feel free to ask questions through the comments section of this post.