MICs, The Library Mashup, & The Next Level

CommuniK Commentary by K. Matthew Dames

Commentary by K. Matthew Dames, executive editor.

This idea is so scalding hot I had to write about it, even though the subject matter is really beyond the normal CopyCense scope.

There are whole generations out there that we want to get //iNTO THE LIBRARIES. Perhaps we should be thinking about what ideas we can get OUT OF THE CLUBS. Seriously, though, we need to get more music //iNTO THE LIBRARIES. More gaming //iNTO THE LIBRARIES. Social space //iNTO THE LIBRARIES. Text messaging. Moblogging. //iNTO THE LIBRARIES. How about equipment and software so more people can start doing their own remixing, their own mashups, their own podcasting? //iNTO THE LIBRARIES (really, not as expensive as you think). Karaoke nights. Poetry slams. //iNTO THE LIBRARIES.

This brilliant stream of consciousness comes from the lbr (Librarians By Request) blog, and it resonates with me because I think of libraries and multimedia information centers (MICs, for all of those who have an eye for marketing), not just places where people can get books.

This post reminds me of a conversation I had with Jessamyn West and Andrea Mercado in October during Internet Librarian 2005. All of us, to some degree, expressed some level of frustration that the things we think will save libraries (perhaps even catapult them into previously unforeseen stratospheres of fully funded community support and success) seem to be beyond the imaginary scope of most information professionals. In contrast, the lbr post really gets it, and gets it all: having libraries do their own mashups so they transform themselves into MICs, the need to get a younger generation into the library, the fact that much of what libraries already have and do makes this mashup relatively easy (just add the water of imagination), and that the library is, in fact, the proper place for this level of creative activity.

Let me give you one example on this mashup theme so you can see where this can go.

I would love to see a library make an investment in M-Audio’s Podcast Factory so that those with a library card can create their own podcast material. This sort of initiative would require a contemporary computer with FireWire and USB ports, an external hard drive, a microphone, powered speakers, audio editing software, a decent digital audio workstation, an audio interface, sound libraries, and a room (preferably one that has some level of noise reducing insulation). The Podcast Factory includes the microphone, the interface, the sound libraries, the editing software (the free open source audio recorder and editor Audacity), and the digital audio workstation (a stripped down version of Ableton Live).

The ideal computer for this sort of venture would be an Apple iMac because it is powerful, optimized for multimedia work, is space efficient, and includes its own suite of “prosumer” multimedia tools (including GarageBand, Apple’s entry level digital audio workstation). For a few extra bucks, the library could invest in an Apple Loops collection for additional sound sources.

I estimate this sort of venture would cost the following:

  • M-Audio’s Podcast Factory: $180.00
  • Apple iMac G5: $2,000.00
  • Apple Loops Jam Packs collection: $200.00
  • USB keyboard controller: $350.00
  • Powered speakers: $350.00
  • ESTIMATED TOTAL: $3,080.00

But wait. There’s more.

A really savvy librarian would pay for none of this. Instead, she would write a proposal to Apple and M-Audio, hook them on the idea, and manage to get five to ten similar workstations donated to the library for free.

Then the librarian would write a proposal to have someone donate a series of Whisper Rooms.

Then the librarian would let Apple and M-Audio help promote a remix/mashup contest that asks aspiring neighborhood producers to submit work to the library. The winning artist would have his work featured as the library’s theme song for a year, and would get a fully outfitted digital studio, which also would be donated from Apple and M-Audio.

Then the librarian would turn around and do the exact same thing for digital photography and film, with the winning entrant in the film contest having her short film serve as the library’s promotional trailer for one year. Again, M-Audio and Apple would supply the equipment prizes, providing the winner with a midlevel desktop digital film production and editing suite.

Finally, as an ongoing initiative, the librarian would promote the initiative to the community, allowing library card holders create community journalism tools. In a well-conceived plan, the library once again becomes the center of the community. A really savvy plan would allow for the library to charge a nominal fee for these services as cost recovery. (I believe that people should always pay for something of value, and I also believe people typically fail to appreciate things for which they do not pay.) I think this would work particularly in smaller communities, where libraries tend to have more of an entertainment and community impact than libraries in larger cities.

The goodwill and public relations coup on this idea would be sick. The infusion of new equipment would be sick. I dare anyone to tell me that a library’s budget would get cut after implementing this plan.

How do the Guinness guys say it? Brilliant!!

I’ll even put my time and money where my mouth is: does anyone out there want to try to get a project like this off the ground and funded? I’ll donate my time and resources pro bono if you do. If you’re interested in the library as MIC and moving librarianship to the next level, leave a comment (you’ll have to have a TypeKey account), or e-mail me.

lbr. Out of the Clubs. Nov. 21, 2005.

CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the intersection of business, law and technology. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC. CopyCense and CommuniK. are trademarks of Seso Digital LLC.

Written by sesomedia

12/05/2005 at 09:00

Posted in Uncategorized

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