Throughout the course, I have uncovered many examples of the idea that traditional library spaces support only the consumption of knowledge while libraries of the future will enable individuals and communities to create and design their own learning and knowledge gathering. I wanted to explore this idea more and digital media labs along with their counterpart, makerspaces, are the perfect examples of the spaces that can be provided within libraries where dynamic learning and innovation can happen.
I chose to base this action plan on my own public library’s plans to build a digital media lab in the near future. Some of the plans come directly from what has already been discussed such as budget money for staff and the use of a large storage space for the future lab. Other parts, have come from what I have learned from library examples as I researched the topic and from what I have learned in this course so far.
DIGITAL MEDIA LAB ACTION PLAN
Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:
Provo City Library will build an accessible community space with a variety of digital media tools to empower community members to creatively express themselves and develop 21st century digital literacy skills through the creation of digital videos, graphic design, podcasts, video presentations, and more. Free access to software, sound, and video equipment will encourage contributions to the growth and productivity of our community and its members as they evolve from consumers to creators.
Description of Community:
The new digital media lab will be open to all community members with a Provo City Library card in good standing. In addition, the library will seek to promote better connections with students from both secondary and college levels and individuals or small groups seeking new ways to create innovative productions.
Action Brief Statement:
CONVINCE: Provo community members both young and old
THAT BY: Learning innovative ways to create and express themselves using new digital technologies
THEY WILL: Ignite their ability to create, discover, and grow
WHICH WILL: Offer further opportunities to individuals while creating a flourishing community environment
BECAUSE: Provo City Library is a community space that kindles innovation, enthusiasm, and learning, to empower and connect our community.
Evidence and Resources to Support Technology or Service:
As electronic books and other digital media become more ubiquitous, libraries’ role in their communities have been called into doubt. The core mission of libraries, to provide a place for knowledge and learning, may still remain the same, but how this mission is accomplished needs to be reexamined. In the Pew Research Center’s 2014 typology report on U.S. libraries, it explains that while many people assume Americans are turning away from libraries because of newer technologies, in actuality “the data shows that most highly-engaged library users are also big technology users. In fact, members of the high engagement groups are more likely to use the internet than lower engagement groups” (Zickuhr, 2014).
In the Aspen Institute’s Dialogue on Public Libraries report on re-envisioning public libraries, it is emphasized how vital it is for libraries to expand access to these new digital literacies. As the world transitions to this new digital economy where knowledge and creativity are the “drivers of productivity and economic growth and information, technology and learning are central to economic performance and prosperity” (Garmer, 2014). The Dialogue goes on to explain that public libraries have a “proven track record in strengthening communities,” but that services that provide help in learning digital technologies are no longer just nice to have. Public libraries need to become key partners “in sustaining the educational, economic and civic health of the community during a time of dramatic change” (Garmer, 2014).
In addition, libraries should consider the Edge Initiative, a national coalition of leading library and local government organizations that provides benchmarks to help libraries manage their technology growth. Benchmark two recommends that, “libraries provide access to relevant digital content and enable community members to create their own digital content” (Edge toolkit, n.d.).
It should also be noted that just providing equipment is not enough. Demonstrations and training need to be provided so that people feel more comfortable. In a recent Atlantic Daily article by Derek Thompson (2017) about Raymond Loewy, the father of the industrial revolution, Thompson describes how Loewy observed that people are often reluctant to work with unfamiliar things yet feel excitement over new and challenging ideas. Loewy and others in his field recognize that people need “some sort of guide to make a foreign landscape more familiar.” Libraries can be this guide by providing training to help users through their reservations or fear of the unknown.
Finally, in her Library Journal article, Meredith Schwartz (2013) quotes Susan K. Nutter, vice provost and director of the NCSU Libraries and the 2005 LJ Librarian of the Year that libraries need to “create spaces that encourage collaboration, reflection, creativity, and awe” and “to be a place not of the past but of the future.” Let us be this place for the members of our community.
Mission, Guidelines, and Policy Related to Technology or Service:
Provo City Library Mission Statement:
The Provo City Library provides our community with an inviting center for information, instruction, learning, leisure and cultural opportunities.
Fundamental Priorities – Collections, Services and Staff
Goal 1: Our community is served by maintaining and improving library services through responsive and responsible collection development, patron services, and staff training.
Promote Digital Literacy
Goal 2: Community members of all ages will have access to technology through library resources and learning opportunities helping them live more fulfilling lives in a rapidly changing world.
Enriching the Community
Goal 3: Community residents will have a meeting area in which to gather and programs in which to participate in educational, civic and cultural events.
Goal 4: The youth of Provo will benefit by continuous development of services and programs which foster literacy, the use of libraries and the love of learning.
Mission of the Digital Media Lab
The mission for creating a new digital media lab will directly tie into the library’s vision and goals especially promoting digital literacy and enriching lives through a valuable community space. In addition, the digital media lab will seek to fulfill the community’s needs and aspirations by creating a space where members can experiment and play with technologies they might not have access to otherwise.
Examples of how other libraries have handled issues can be found online in the following places.
Digital Media Lab Guidelines
The library must consider how to provide equal and equitable access while considering the following issues:
- Hours of operation
- How to handle reservations for the lab
- Time limits per individual or group
- User orientation and/or training
- Staff training
Digital Media Lab Policy
A written policy will need to cover some of the following items:
- Requiring a lab orientation
- Possible creation of waiver form
- Age restrictions or required supervision of certain ages
- Possible restrictions on types of use such as commercial
- Mishandling or damaging equipment
- Copyright infringement
Once the digital media lab policy is created, it will go through many reviews and revisions by the following groups:
- Library director and management team
- Library board
- City attorneys
After all reviews and revisions, final approval will be made by the library board.
Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:
Initial funding will be used for the following needs:
- Architect firm for room design
- Conversion and renovation of large storage room space
- Purchasing equipment and software
- Staff training
- Staffing lab during open hours
- Increased staff time from other departments (IT support, cataloging, marketing)
- Future upgrades to software and equipment
Seeking funds from outside the library
Grants to help with funding of the initial room renovation and purchase of equipment should be searched for and submitted. LSTA and the Institute of Museum and Libraries Services grants are two possibilities.
In the last decade, Provo City has consistently been rated as a top tech entrepreneurial hub (Zaleski, 2016). Many startups and other technology firms might be interested in contributing to a space that could potentially train or better prepare future employees for jobs in the tech industry. The library should utilize these resources by searching for community partners willing to donate equipment or funds.
The library budget
Two additional part-time staff positions in the Community Relations department will need to be created to work in the lab space. With the recent retirement of three full-time employees who had each worked for over 20 years, enough budget money has been saved to create these two new positions. In addition, a few extra hours for staff outside the Community Relations department will initially be required.
Action Steps & Timeline:
- Proposal presentation to director and management team to review details = 1 day
- Proposal approved by library board at monthly meeting = After the presentation, 1-2 months to decide
- Architect hired = Designing space 3-6 months
- Conversion of storage room = 3-6 months
- Setup of computers and equipment = 1-2 months
- Staff training = 2-3 months
- Marketing and promotion before grand opening (can be simultaneous with staff training) = 1 month
- Total = 10-20 months
The goal of this proposal is to approve the building of a lab where creation of new media can occur. However, if the library board does not approve the proposed plan, the library could continue with the media conversion stations for older audio/visual formats already in use and add a few computers with creative software to the current computer lab. Smaller plans like this would not need to be approved by the library board. Howver, the board’s reasons for objection should be reviewed and a possible new plan created for future presentation.
Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:
Two additional part-time staff positions will be created within the Community Relations department. With two large universities in the Provo-Orem Metro area, the hope is to hire graduate students with expertise in digital media creation.
Lab hours may be affected by limitations of staff hours initially. If the digital media lab is popular enough, the budget may need to be re-examined to find additional hours. Another possible idea is to work closely with the graduate programs at Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University to encourage students to volunteer their time. This could possibly be included in the course requirements or possibly offer credit hours in exchange for volunteering.
In addition to two new part-time positions, the digital media lab will require a team effort from many other library departments.
- Receiving and cataloging items and equipment
Systems (IT Department)
- Providing advice on what software and computers to purchase.
- Set up and install everything
- Provide technical support
- Create and market promotional materials about the new lab
- Accept reservations
- Plan educational classes
Training for this Technology or Service:
Staff hired to work in the lab are expected to already have some expertise with the software and equipment available in the lab. Some training can be done through the library’s Lynda.com subscription which provides a wide variety of creative and technology related tutorials. In addition, staff from other departments with expertise in specific software programs or video/sound equipment could be asked to provide some training. Staff training will be completed before the grand opening. New staff will be trained during hours when the lab is not in use.
Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:
Marketing of the digital media lab will initially target general, creatively minded individuals. Later marketing may attempt to target specific groups such as students.
Promotion of marketing materials will be through the following methods:
- A well-designed and detailed page on the library website to funnel traffic from interested patrons.
- Promotion on social media networks
- Facebook (general audience)
- Twitter (entrepreneurial community)
- Instagram (creative community members)
- In-house library marketing including posters and flyers
- Building relationships with local educators to make them aware of this resource for their students
Marketing should be reassessed each month. Additional plans will be made if the initial marketing plans are not enough.
It will be important to get all library staff on board to instigate better word of mouth marketing. Once the digital media lab has been approved, an announcement should be made to staff. The goals and vision of the lab should be included with the announcement. Progress reports should also be regularly posted. These could be included in the monthly staff newsletter.
Once the lab design and setup has been completed, a good idea would be to hold a staff day in the lab where employees could try out and experiment with the software and equipment.
Collect data, information, and stories
- Basic statistics will be counted
- Number of reservations
- Number of people who use the lab each day
- Survey those who use the lab
- Purpose of use (school, personal, entrepreneurial, etc.)
- Software and equipment used during each session
- Problems or difficulties with software or equipment
- Rating and review of software and equipment
- Collect experiences
- Skills developed
- Types of projects created
- How did the lab contribute to the user’s needs or goals?
- Review original goals after six months, then annually.
- Three main goals:
- Access to a community space where people can creatively express themselves
- Development of 21st century digital literacy skills
- An increase in content creation, collaboration, and productivity to better develop and grow Provo’s community.
- Did the library meet those goals? If not, why?
- Did usage increase over time? If not, why?
- Review collected statistics and information from surveys
- Use staff for anecdotal evidence
- What were the observed user behaviors?
- What ideas for change came up through observed use of the lab?
- Expand or adjust hours offered?
- Provide more equipment?
- Provide more or different training?
Garmer, A. (2014). Rising to the challenge: Re-envisioning public libraries. Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries. Retrieved from http://csreports.aspeninstitute.org/documents/Aspen-LibrariesReport-2017-FINAL.pdf
Edge Toolkit. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.libraryedge.org/benchmarksv1/community-value
Schwarz, M. (September 18, 2013). Tomorrow, visualized. Retreived from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/09/buildings/lbd/tomorrow-visualized-library-by-design-fall-2013/#_
Thompson, D. (2017). The four-letter code to selling just about anything. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/01/what-makes-things-cool/508772/
Zaleski, A. (July 13, 2016). A high-tech mecca rises to rival Silicon Valley. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/13/a-high-tech-mecca-rises-to-rival-silicon-valley.html
Zickuhr, K. (March 18, 2014). A new way of looking at public library engagement in America. Retrieved from http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2014/03/18/a-new-way-of-looking-at-public-library-engagement-in-america/