Last year, I was enrolled in the IST 600: Innovation in Public Libraries course taught by Meg Backus and Tom Gokey. The class allowed students to develop and test-drive new approaches to public librarianship borrowing from and being inspired by recent innovations in contemporary art practices. The class was a sandbox for trying out new ideas in the context of libraries, documenting the work, and sharing it with others in the field. It was used as a laboratory for analyzing the material at the root of libraries and experimenting with acts of librarianship.
A Recording Studio in a Library?
I developed a project proposal for a recording studio in a library. I envisioned the recording studio as a tool for bringing about a greater sense of community cohesiveness by engaging people of all ages in programs related to music, literacy, technology, production, writing, and education. I also envisioned the recording studio as a place of respect, honesty, loyalty, creativity, and curiosity. After all, one of the main reasons I want to be a librarian is to work with the community in order to provide community member with the information and resources they want and need, as well as new and innovative information and resources.
I attended the New York Library Association Conference last November, where I heard Dr. Lambert Shell speak about the benefits of the newly built recording studio and teen space at the Queens Library for Teens in Far Rockaway. I was able to speak with Dr. Shell after his presentation and we eventually arranged for me to visit the library.
Queens Library for Teens
Queens Library for Teens is a very special place. The library, which is a 3,000 square-foot former retail store, opened its doors in December 2007 for young people ages 12 to 19. This library allows higher noise levels and snacking, and it is full of computers, magazine, graphic novels, video games, test-prep materials, and the recording studio. Youth counselors staff the Queens Library for Teens. These counselors are not trained librarians or guidance counselors, but they work with the teens to serve as positive role models, provide educational and social programs, and create positive outcomes within the community.
One of my favorite aspects of the recording studio at the library is that students must understand how to operate the studio hardware and software prior to using it. Once students are properly trained they are able to pass the knowledge to each other so that more students are able to participate. The students took the time to teach me how to use the software and talked me into getting into the recording booth to make some music. I had a great time getting to know the staff and the students at the library. There was so much positive energy coming from everyone I met. The Queens Library for Teens is a very special place filled with very kind and motivated people.
To learn more, check out the Queens Library for Teens Facebook page or watch this YouTube video to see the recording studio in action. You can also visit the Queens Public Library System’s official website for more information.