Emerging Technology: Audio Equipment/Studio

The inspiration of incorporating an audio studio into the public library came after reading about two innovative libraries. The Edmonton Public Library is leading the way of the future of libraries by providing space to spark creativity and allowing customers to try out new technology. They created a maker space which includes, computers, gaming stations, a 3-D printer, but also a sound recording studio (para. electronic EPL). Anythink, a great example of implementing 2.0 initiatives, incorporated a studio into their space to promote relationships between the library, teens, and local artists within the community. Both libraries are great examples of their commitment to participatory service.

The library where I work is exploring ways to engage the large teen population that visit the library regularly. Currently, we offer a very small space for teens to congregate and limited programs to keep their interest. As our library approaches 2.0 we are considering opportunities to engage teens that will build lifelong relationships with the public library. The purpose of the audio studio is to bring teens and young adults together to explore their creativity in a safe and welcoming environment. The plan is to begin small, by incorporating audio equipment at a minimal cost, and then to build large by constructing an audio studio.


According to Lee Rainie,  director of internet, science and technology research at Pew Research Center (2014), teens desire new technologies. Therefore, the main target population will focus on adolescents and young adults. The intent of the audio studio is it to provide new services in a welcoming, creative space for teens to explore, learn and engage with audio technology. The library anticipates the space and technology will ultimately give teens an opportunity to express their creativity. There is also the expectation the audio technology may bridge the generational gap by bringing in community members such as; local news people, actors/actresses, people who record for audiobooks, sound technicians, and musicians to demonstrate and mentor recording experiences for our teen and young adult users. Pam Sandlian Smith (2013), the director of Anythink, highlights the success of library studios in her article Architects of Dreams, “…the project wasn’t about computer equipment. It was about creating an environment where teens could grow sustained relationships with mentors, and over time develop an interest or talent” (para. Library as Studio).

Although teens and young adults are our target population, we do not want to limit the space to only adolescents. All members of the community can utilize the space. Local history projects can use the audio technology to document stories from members of the community and archive them for future use. Parents and grandparents may use it to record stories for their young children. Local musicians may use the technology to make recordings as there is currently only one recording studio available in our community. As well, our library could partner with the local college as they offer the “Music Industry Arts” program. The possibilities and creative avenues available with the audio technology are endless.


CONVINCE inspiring, brilliant, energetic adolescents THAT BY exploring, learning and sharing their creativity THEY WILL give voice to their stories and talents WHICH WILL be performed, shared, and celebrated BECAUSE the library is a place where imagination will lead to possibilities, wonder, and magic.


Libraries, once a place for books, is changing. As collections decrease, libraries are utilizing their space to give people access to the digital tools required in an age of technology. Libraries are transforming from ‘house of knowledge” to ‘house of access’ where the library has evolved into a place where people can access resources and information they previously could not; where they can create, explore, and learn (Zickuhr, 2014, para. 2)

Incorporating digital media into library space is not a new concept, many libraries have already completed this with great success. The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County created Studio i to bring teens together to tell stories through music. They have had great success with their program because it allows teens to express themselves in a new way using technology (Czarnecki, 2009, p.198).

Telling stories is an important aspect of utilizing media in libraries. RadioActive Youth Media is a program facilitated by KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio. Their mission is to support teens by providing radio journalism workshops that focus on telling individual stories. Storytelling can be a powerful experience. As Asarnow (2015) states “Being a witness to someone’s story changes your life. Telling your own story changes your life. Hearing stories changes lives” (p.14). Although RadioActive is a recording studio, they share many similarities with libraries. Rob Thomson (2017) concluded in his article, When the Library Met the Recording Studio, both libraries and studios enjoy quiet and both are creative industries. Therefore, libraries may want “…to get out of our library-land and engage with other creative industries” (p.21).  By partnering with local radio stations and recording studios, libraries can provide new and exciting services for their customers.

Examples of libraries which have incorporated a media room into their space with great success:

Anythink, The Studio

Edmonton Public Library

Halifax Public Library

Toronto Public Library


Public Library Mission

The Library is a community-based, accessible centre that responds to changing needs by providing up-to-date resources in a welcoming environment.

Public Library Vision

Your Destination for Discovery.

When making new policies or guidelines, it is good practice to research other library policies regarding the new service and model a policy based on that research. The policy should also be a collaborative creation by all those who will use or provide the service involved in the policy making decisions. For the audio equipment/studio, this would include management, board members, librarians, and community members. Many libraries have already implemented an audio studio or media room into their library space, consequently it is easy to look up and consult  their policies to provide a foundation for our own. I would like to see the policy to include four basic elements:

  • Respect for others and equipment
  • For privacy reasons, all files will be wiped from the software, must provide own storage device
  • May need to limit the amount of people in the audio room
  • Copyright laws


Overall Goal – Build a creative space for audio discovery, exploring, and sharing within our community.

Short term goal (two months) – Avoid techno-hesitation by providing microphone, computer, software, and recording space in our current meeting room for immediate use (Stephens, 2012)

Considering we already have the space, a MacBook, and free software, we can begin using this technology once we purchase a USB microphone. This will allow the library to test technologies, determine community needs, and account for all costs before implementing the long term goal.

Long term goal (three years) – Create an audio studio in the new library 2.0 space.

Objective 1: To create a media studio that will encourage tech-savvy youth to delve into their creativity in turn increase teen and young adult customers by 20% by 2020.

Objective 2:  To utilize new audio equipment to bridge the generational gaps by introducing recording technology that will appeal to all age groups and encourage mentoring.


Funding the audio equipment (short term goal) will come directly from the approved 2017 budget. The library already has a MacBook as well as a meeting space that can be used temporarily until the audio studio is completed (3 years). A Yeti USB microphone silver can be purchased on Amazon for $189.99 CDN Prime. Free software, such as GarageBand, can be used to get a sense of the community needs. The library would have to pay staff hours to train and run the program.

Funding for an audio studio would require a much larger budget. Funding would be necessary for the construction of the room, purchasing audio equipment (Komplete Audio Interface, cables, soundboard), installing furniture, accommodating staff hours, training staff and volunteers, marketing the room, covering overhead (electricity, internet, apps, software), and buying accessories (microphone filter, microphone stand, instrument adaptor). As well, based on the trial period results (short term goals), the community may determine that they require instruments such as keyboards, drums, etc. A budget at this scale would need to be approved by the library board and city council. The library would have to initiate fundraising and explore possible grants and donations to build this space.


The prototype for the audio studio is allowing access to the audio equipment. Setting up the computer, softwares, and to-be-purchased microphone in the meeting room will allow the library and community to test, explore, and engage with the audio technology before proceeding with the construction of the audio studio. This can be achieved with little additional expense. It will give everyone a sense of the creative possibilities available to adolescents using this form to express themselves. Completing this stage will take approximately two months, will only need to be approved by library management, and available librarians can arrange program times within their existing schedule.

Implementing the long term goal of designing an audio studio, will be a considerably larger project with considerable more expense. Many people will need to be involved not only with the planning, but with designing, budgeting, marketing, and training. The community, library staff, library board, and city council will all need to agree throughout the process to ensure everyone is committed to seeing the project complete. The alternative plan, should the audio studio not be constructed, is to continue to offer the audio equipment in the meeting room as a temporary set up to allow our target audience to express their creativity.

Below is an outline of considerations for the audio studio:

Long Term Goal Implementation: Create an audio studio in the new public library space

  • determine librarian(s) to oversee the program (January 2018)
  • establish a grant writing team to begin looking at possible grants to support initiatives (January 2018, ongoing)
  • determine needs of audio room (windows, electrical outlets, open space, chairs, blank wall, sound proofing)
  • seek estimates to construct audio room (March 2018 – October 2018)
  • design a budget based on construction estimate, audio equipment (Komplete Audio Interface, cables, turntable), furniture, staff hours, training, marketing, overhead (electricity, internet, apps, software), and accessories (microphone filter, microphone stand, instrument adaptor) (December 2018).
  • present proposal, goals, objectives, and budget to board for review (January 2019)
  • present proposal, goals, objectives, and budget to city council for approval (February 2019, city council budget meeting)
  • once budget and grants have been approved, begin construction (June 2019)
  • decide on a marketing team (June 2019)
  • begin planning grand opening (June 2019 – August 2019)
  • decide how to staff audio room (August 2019)
  • develop marketing strategies to promote event to target audience and community members (September, 2019)
  • begin training librarians and teens to use the technology (especially if Staffing Possibility Four is implemented) (September 2019 to December 2019)
  • invite target audience to the event (create posters, invitations, post on website, word of mouth, bookmarks, pamphlets) (November – December 2019 )
  • Begin booking/reservations for the event (or maybe it is drop in) (November – December 2019)
  • host and celebrate grand opening (January 2020)
  • continually evaluate the program


There are four considerations to approach staffing for both immediate access to the recording technology (short term goal) and allowing the public access to the recording studio (long term goal).

Possibility One: Provide a schedule as to when the audio equipment/studio will be available. Staff will only be available at specified times.

Advantages: Staff will be available to answer questions and oversee the proper use of technology. Times will be convenient for the library, may not need to add extra staffing hours for a librarian.

Disadvantages: Times may not be convenient for the customer, the customer may feel monitored and may inhibit creativity. Lack of customer privacy.

Possibility Two: Ask users to book the audio equipment/studio room. Schedule staff based on needs of the user.

Advantages: Room will be available when the customer requires it. Staff will be available to answer questions and oversee the proper use of technology.

Disadvantages: May need to add additional staff hours to meet the needs of the user. Customers may still feel monitored, may inhibit creativity.

Possibility Three: Access audio equipment/studio room with library card. Staff may not necessarily be available to monitor room. User will be responsible for handling equipment properly and responsibly.

Advantages: Accessible when customer needs the room, may freely express their creativity. Respect of customers privacy. Will not need to add extra staffing hours as the room will always be accessible. Usage of room can be tracked through library card.

Disadvantages: Damage to equipment, risk of improper use. Training may be needed before user can access the room.

Possibility Four: Allow teens to staff and manage the audio equipment/studio. Give adolescents an opportunity to earn volunteer hours by providing workshops or hands on training to their peers and other users. Give them the Power!

Advantages: Teens will gain experience running and monitoring the audio room activities. Less librarian staff hours required. Freedom to express themselves and their creativity. Builds a trusting relationship between youth and librarians.

Disadvantages: Training will need to be provided. Librarians may still need to provide additional staffing during hours which cannot be covered by student volunteers.

Possible Solutions for Audio Room considering staffing issues and customer use:

Solution One: Create the audio studio with open windows. This will eliminate the need of having the librarian in the physical space. The librarian can still provide assistance while monitoring the activities. The public may also monitor the room which in turn may help promote the resource and generate interest and excitement for it.

Solution Two: Train all staff members on use of equipment; librarians, circulation and pages. Everyone can assist and will eliminate scheduling extra staffing hours.

Solution Three: Provide training for users or hang clearly written posters, ‘how to’s’, in room for ease of use.

Solution Four: Install a security camera in the audio room, however, this may impact customers’ privacy.


In the short term (two months), training will be required for the librarian(s) who will oversee the program. The long term will require every librarian to be trained properly to use the technology. Once the audio studio is completed, I would recommend all staff, circulation and pages, are trained incase assistance is needed. Additional training will be required for adolescents and young adults if the library chooses to allow teens to manage the audio room. Ongoing hands-on training will be provided for the users during the short term initiative.

The training will be provided by our emerging technology librarian. She will put together a training package and begin implementing it with our users once we have set up the equipment to achieve our short term goal. After the library opens the audio studio, training classes may be considered to teach customers how to use the technology. This would be assessed depending on the community demand and need. The training would involve how to use the space, how to use the recording equipment properly, and a demonstration of the technology.


In the infancy of this program, marketing will be imperative to ensure the success of the program, especially during the trial period temporary installation. Posters, handouts, and bookmarks, can easily be printed and displayed throughout the library advertising the audio equipment. However, I think to reach the target audience, it would be best if demonstrations of  the audio equipment were taking place while the teens were in the library. As our library is adjacent to both a high school and public school, many students come into the library at lunch time. This would be an ideal opportunity for the librarian(s) to have the equipment set up in a very public area (main lobby) of the library and demonstrate the features while engaging and encouraging adolescents to play with the technology. If the teens can see it, touch it, and begin to notice the ‘cool’ things they could do with it, they would be inclined to spread the word amongst their peers.

Marketing the technology service to our other customers could easily be done by posting an advertisement in our local community magazine and by ensuring the library’s website, blog, and Facebook page all mention, discuss, and reflect the technology and how it is being used at the library. Of course, once the audio studio is constructed, that will draw a lot of interest from our community. To market outside of our library, librarians can promote this service with their outreach partners; school visits, MotherGoose, nursing home visits. As well, our local newspaper and local radio station would most likely feature the audio room once completed.


The library outcomes are:

  • 20% more teens and young adults will use the audio equipment to explore their creativity
  • Library customers will know about the audio equipment/studio available in the library
  • The new technology will create opportunities to close the generational gaps

Evaluating in the beginning stages of the program would be essential as this is both the library’s and user’s opportunity to discover the community needs the technology is capable of meeting. During these early evaluations, librarians would want to look for growth opportunities, strengths and weaknesses, determine best software/tools/equipment, make changes and adjust to meet needs and test technologies. Therefore, when the audio studio opens most obstacles will be worked out and the community/librarians will have a sense of what to expect.

There are many different methods which can be implemented to collect data and information to determine the success of the program. Statistics can be used to determine if there has been an increase in the amount of teens and young adults using the library. The stats can be obtained through sign in/sign up sheets, or tracking by librarians. Statistics can also be gathered from how many customers in general used the new audio equipment/studio. Programs which encourage adults mentoring teens can be tracked along with attendance at each session. Questionnaires and/or informal interviews can be conducted at the end of each program to determine if needs were met. Lastly, suggestion cards can be kept in the audio studio. Evaluating the program will be ongoing to confirm the library is continually meeting the needs of the users.


Once the audio room is established it may evolve into a media room which will allow for video recording. I would recommend, when planning the space, to keep options available for this possibility. For example, the room may require space for a green screen, or maybe a stage for filming.


Asarnow, J. (2015). KUOW’s radioactive youth media. Young Adult Library Services, 14(1), 13-18. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/Content/NavigationMenu/YALSA/ YALSA.htm

Berry III, J. (2014). 2014 Gale/LJ library of  the year: Edmonton public library, transformed by teamwork. Library Journal. Retrieved from: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/06/awards/ 2014-galelj-library-of-the-year-edmonton-public-library-transformed-by-teamwork#_

Czarnecki, K. (2009). Mentoring over movies and music: Studio i-Style. Voice of Youth Advocates, 32(3), 198-199. Retrieved from: http://store.kurdylapublishing.com/

Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr. Library. (2016, July 29). Recording studio policy. SJSU. Retrieved (March 8, 2017), from: https://library.sjsu.edu/policies-procedures/recording-studio- policy

Laerkes, J.G. (2016). The four spaces of the public library. IFLA blogs. Retrieved from: http:// blogs.ifla.org/public-libraries/2016/03/29/the-four-spaces-of-the-public-library/

Rainie, L. (2014). 10 facts about Americans and public libraries. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/01/24/10-facts-about-americans-and- public-libraries/

Sandlian Smith, P. (2013). Architects of dreams: Anythink’s Pam Sandlian Smith on the power of  children’s librarians. School Library Journal. Retrieved from: http://www.slj.com/ 2013/05/public-libraries/architects-of-dreams-pam-sandlian-smith-on-the-power-of- childrens-librarians/#

Stephens, M. (2012). Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world. Retrieved from: http://tametheweb.com/2012/05/30/taming-technolust-ten-steps-for-planning-in-a-2-0- world-full-text/

Thomson, R. (2017). When the library met the recording studio. InCite, 38(1/2), 21. Retrieved from: http://www.alia.org.au/publishing/incite/

Zickuhr, K. (2014). Public libraries and technology: From “houses of knowledge” to “houses of access”. Pew Internet. Retrieved from: http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2014/07/09/public- libraries-and-technology-from-houses-of-knowledge-to-houses-of-access/


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2 Responses to Emerging Technology: Audio Equipment/Studio

  1. Wow, Carolyne! This a terrific plan, very thorough and detailed, and also just a wonderful idea!

  2. @dmasursky I enjoyed this project, it was a lot fun 🙂

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