Libraries around the world are adapting their services and facilities to better serve their communities in a changing world, and Burbank is looking to join that trend this year.
On Jan. 16, library officials are slated to unveil the Spark! Digital Media Lab, a technology training space at the Burbank Central Library, located at 110 N. Glenoaks Blvd.
The lab is designed to address the needs of the current and future workforce in the city.
The facility will include PCs and Mac computers, Apple iPad Pros, a 3D printer, virtual-reality headsets, filming and sound equipment and animation tablets.
Users will also have access to the latest software for photo and video editing, sound production as well as virtual-reality and 3D design, according to Elizabeth Goldman, Burbank’s library services director.
All of the equipment can be used at the media lab for free as long as the user is at least 14 years old. They also must attend an orientation class and have a valid Burbank Public Library card.
“It’s a major step and a big leap for us,” Goldman said. “I really hope it shows people that we are understanding our community and the world and how it’s changing. The way people learn and study is really changing, and the way the workforce is moving is really changing.”
The new space is primarily being funded by Community Development Block grants, with additional support from state grants.
The idea to create a digital-media space was conceived by library staff and employees with the city’s economic development department.
While Burbank’s staple industries are television, movie and animation production, Goldman said she and her colleagues with the city understood that the workforce is evolving to include video-game production and other digital media.
“We have a creative economy here in Burbank,” she said. “It’s not just about getting access to a basic computer and basic software. We wanted to find a way to make space for people to come in and get support and training or just get exposure to these programs.”
Goldman said Burbank’s libraries will continue to focus on traditional literacy programs, but having digital-literacy offerings that get teens and adults up to speed on the latest multimedia software is equally as important.
While there will be a lot of state-of-the-art equipment available to the public soon, Goldman said she understands that the Burbank Central Library — a facility that city officials have recognized needs improvements since 1989 — isn’t an ideal location for the digital-media lab.
However, if the new service proves to be popular, and if there is funding to improve the Central Library, Goldman said he hopes to create a more dedicated space for the high-tech program.
In the meantime, Goldman said she plans to expand the Spark! Digital Media Lab as much as she can.
In addition to giving the public access to equipment and software, the lab is expected to offer classes on how to get the most out of working on various media productions.