The Labs @ Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh | Developing Policies & Ordering Equipment | Library as Incubator Project | The Information Professional |

"Guest blogger Emily Fear to showcase a new digital literacy initiative at CLP called The Labs. For this installment, we examine the nuts and bolts of launching a digital makerspace in a large library system by taking a look at policies and equipment.

"The official launch of the The Labs is two months away, and the team is laying the groundwork for what the project will become. Building a functional infrastructure for a project like this requires developing a set of uniform policies and procedures for each Lab site, as well as researching, ordering and cataloging the necessary equipment. While these processes don’t offer the immediate thrills of watching teens develop their filmmaking or music production skills, they are necessary steps to ensure The Labs are a success.

New cables and equipment!
The selection process for equipment and software is based on several factors. Ideas were gleaned from pre-existing digital learning lab models, such as Chicago Public Library’s YouMedia and the Digital Media Lab at Skokie Public Library. The Labs coordinators also consulted with Drew Davidson of Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s programming partners Hip Hop On L.O.C.K and Pittsburgh Filmmakers and the CLP – Main Teen Advisory Council. The overall mission of The Labs also has influence over equipment and software purchases; items are assessed for how accessible and easy they will be to use."

"Corey Wittig, Digital Services Librarian at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, took the number of Lab spaces and the program’s budget into account and had to limit purchases to what is absolutely necessary for each site, prompting the current emphasis on ordering items that have the most potential for use. Quality and affordability have been important in choosing key Labs software and equipment– iMacs, MacBook laptops, basic audio and video recording devices and cables–but accessibility is also a top concern. Most teens should be able to come into a Labs site and use the resources with relative ease. Digital media recording and editing software like Apple’s iMovie and GarageBand, however basic, are perfect for beginners, yet still handy for more advanced creators. As Wittig says, “You don’t necessarily need top of the line equipment or software,” because what most Pittsburgh teens need are the tools to get started."