Vancouver Public Library keen on creative technology lab

'Inspiration lab' would include recording studio

Once a bastion of silence, the Vancouver Public Library wants to build a creative technology lab that includes a recording studio with sound mixing equipment.

Open to library patrons, the Inspiration Lab would include a recording studio, digital devices to preserve and share stories, video editing software and self-publishing tools that include software and hardware to produce print or eBooks.

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“What our hope would be down the road is if they come in and record an oral history or create a movie or a new piece of music or something, that we can actually add it to our collection,” said chief librarian Sandra Singh. “As a community we’re enriched when we learn about each other, we learn about each others’ experiences, we learn how to see the world through each others eyes. It helps build connectivity, trust, empathy and a sense of belonging.”

The library anticipates needing up to $600,000 to create the 3,000-square-foot lab on the third floor of the Central Branch at 350 West Georgia St. The lab is slated to open in late 2014.

To inspire potential donors for the project, the Vancouver Public Library Foundation is hosting what’s to become an annual fundraising event Oct. 4 called Touch. With the event, it wants to transform the atrium of the coliseum-like Central Branch into a portal to the future with interactive installations.

Touch’s curator, Malcolm Levy, co-founder and artistic director of the New Forms Festival and curator of CODE Live on the Great Northern Way Campus during the 2010 Winter Olympics, says participants will be welcomed outside the central library by a 15-metre-long mechanical snake called Titanoboa.

Once inside, a cacophony of languages will greet guests as they pass through a sculpture composed of two semi-circular walls of books.

Touch-goers can step into a small dark room and use a Braille iPad that will control light in an interactive installation called Touch of Light. They can slide onto a bicycle seat, don goggles and deliver newspapers in a virtual world with PaperDude VR. They can also check out the Robotic Writer that creates 2D drawings on a topic or theme.

Visitors seeking a personal touch can slip into the authors’ lounge to hang out with illustrators and writers Steve Burgess, Timothy Taylor and Jen Sookfong Lee to help create short stories. The space will be styled after a Gertrude Stein salon in 1920s Paris.

“Of course with digital technology and output,” Levy said. “Instead of Picassos it will be Twitter.”

Top bidders in the silent auction will win exclusive consultations with the likes of Amir Nasrabadi, vice president and general manager of Pixar in Vancouver, Francesco Aquilini, co-owner of the Vancouver Canucks, and real estate marketer Bob Rennie.

The party also includes a DJ set by Vancouver indie electro-pop act HUMANS and DJ VH1, from New York City, who opened for Lady Gaga for four years. “It’s about bringing a new generation into the library and showing how the library is adapting to this time in history and not just adapting, but becoming seminal,” said Levy. “People get this magical experience of imagining digital literacy and also get the feeling of supporting the library, becoming a part of that next generation of library supporters.”

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