Long Branch Library opens system’s first digital media lab -- Gazette.Net


The county library system’s first digital media lab at the Long Branch Library in Silver Spring has been well received, officials say.

Teens and adults can attend free classes and workshops on making music videos, social media and other topics. They can use equipment such as iPad Air tablets, scanners and video cameras on their own.

“The idea is for the lab’s users to get accustomed to new technology they might not have at home,” said Mary Ellen Icaza, virtual services manager for Montgomery County Public Libraries. “Hopefully, they will gain skills that will help them in their work and careers.”

The lab has been open on a walk-in basis since July for about 20 hours a week and is a systemwide resource that can be accessed by users after completing agreement and registration forms. There are iMac desktop computers and MacBook Pro notebooks equipped with software that includes iPhoto and iMovie. There are iPad Air tablets, a scanner and video camera, audio recorders, microphones, headphones and a green screen wall to superimpose video subjects onto virtual backgrounds.

Other planned topics for classes include one on digital photography Sept. 13 and Photoshop Sept. 27. Registration can be done online or by phone. Students are also planning a town hall meeting in October with County Cable Montgomery.

Some teens are able to volunteer in the lab to help new users, earning Student Service Learning hours they need for school. The lab is looking for long-term teen technology student volunteers who can commit at least 25 hours over three to four months, said Linda Curvey-Brown, the digital/teen librarian at Long Branch. Training will be provided.

“They will assist with computer users and with the maintenance and organization of equipment,” Curvey-Brown said.

The most popular item by users so far are the computers with the Photoshop and video editing software, she said.

Digital media labs are fairly common in library systems nationwide, especially larger ones, Icaza said. Officials plan to open one in the new downtown Silver Spring Library and it could be a feature in others, she said.

The Silver Spring library is slated to open by early next year.

“Long Branch is serving as a model,” Icaza said.