Fountaindale Library to Build Dream Space for Digital Media Creation

By Patrick Hogan |

The Fountaindale Public Library in suburban Chicago will start work this week on a dramatic new facility for patrons’ digital media projects. Fountaindale is in a new building that opened in March 2011. The basement was left unfinished, leaving nearly 7,000 square feet open for new possibilities. Called Studio 300, the space will include:

  • 6 sound recording studios,
  • 2 video recording studios,
  • 3 group collaboration rooms with integrated technology, dual monitor workstations, and videoconferencing equipment.

The budget for the project is $3 million. A big chunk will go to expanding HVAC systems for the space. The library is working with its architectural firm for the building, Nagle Hartray Architecture, which brought in Shen Milsom & Wilke for audiovisual consulting and design. The plan is to open Studio 300 in spring of 2013.

Offered the blank slate of the basement space, the library administration and board soon honed in on the concept of creating digital media. Scanning the library marketplace, they took noted of the digital media labs and maker spaces sprouting across the country. Paul Mills, the library’s executive director, believes that a digital media space fits with libraries' traditional role. He referenced comments of Jamie LaRue, Douglas County Public Library director, that libraries have always been more than repositories. Mills said, “Libraries can help patrons create things that are important for them or for their church, their family, their business, utilizing tools that are now available.” Audio or video content requires high-powered computers and specialized software packages. To record, you need studio space. To get started, many will need classes, online courses, and other information services that libraries offer.

Mills said that networking with fellow librarians has been invaluable in planning the space. He talked with several Chicago area librarians with digital media labs. He toured the YOUmedia Chicago space in the Harold Washington Library. "Our profession is so willing to share expertise," Mills said, praising the YOUMedia staff for "multiple hours" sharing their insights and experiences. While few libraries have a 7,000 square feet and a budget to build it out, Mills encourages librarians to explore their options with digital media. “Do things on a different scale to fit your resources and the interests of your community,” he said.

Coming soon- an opportunity for learn from fellow librarians creating maker spaces. ALA TechSource will host a series of free webinars, starting with a presentation from the Westport Library (CT) on October 15. Register in WebEx.