Providing fast Internet links, modern equipment and the tools to learn new skills are the impetus for Idea Lab, a new digital media lab at Ignacio Community Library.
While a lot of people start with a simple request, such as converting old slides and VHS tapes to digital formats, there are opportunities to do much more, said Ron Schermacher, the library's service desk manager.
These include shooting and creating audio and video, and learning graphic design.
At an open house for the new space on Thursday, Schermacher showed off almost a dizzying array of gadgets and computers the library has available to anyone who has a library card.
These new skills can help with a job search or to create digital content for companies who need to update their websites, Schermacher said. The lab also can be used to record family members, for example, to create a film for future generations.
ICL staff started planning for the lab last year when movement to transform the former multi-purpose room into a digital media lab took form. The library is using funds provided by the Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces grant awarded in 2017 by WebJunction, which provides webinars and training for libraries.
In November, the library set up an online selling station. The station gives patrons a dedicated computer for access to eBay, Amazon and other online stores. There is a photo booth, scale, and packing materials to prepare items for shipping. Instructions and lessons with staff to learn the equipment are available.
On Thursday, Maria Zeller arrived with some antique wooden toys from Germany that she thinks she might want to sell online. Schermacher assured her the process can seem confusing, but after a few sessions, patrons can learn the basics pretty quickly.
"This is going to be an exciting facility," said another patron.
The Idea Lab will be shaped by the needs of the community, said library Director Marcia Vining.
"We want people to share their expertise and let us know what their needs are," she said.
Idea Lab works with ICL MAKE, the library's makerspace, which has been a feature of the library since 2015.
For example, someone who has composed an object using Blender or a similar design program and wants to build a prototype can use the library's MAKE 3D printer to bring an item to life.
"In another instance, you design a prop for your short film," Schermacher said, displaying the lab's flip camera. "Using a program such as Pepakura, you can build the design into a usable object for your production. The possibilities are endless."
Indeed, he showed a short video of a dragon created by students in the MAKE program. While it looked almost like an old stop-motion film, it was all created digitally, he explained.
Room remodeling for Idea Lab started in December with new paint and cabinets and additional computer terminals. Behind-the-scenes work included installing software, learning and testing programs, creating instructional manuals, creating policy and training staff. Every library staff member has been tasked with a specific skill so everyone knows how to use the equipment and software.
Idea Lab is available to all library card-holders. To set up an appointment and to reserve the use of specific equipment, call the library at 563-9287.