October 21, 2020

BY DEEANNA ROLLINS

Studio Central is a new creative digital hub that will be added to the main branch of the Kitchener Public Library (KPL) in the near future. It will be an expansion of the current Digital Media Lab.

The library plans to add things like 3D printers, mixing and recording studios, a virtual reality room and additional spaces for other creative initiatives.

On Oct. 25, the KPL held a kick-off party for the Studio, called Party in the Stacks, in order to help raise money to go toward funding Studio Central.

The kickoff party included things like the scanning and 3D printing of people’s heads, a virtual reality booth and many guest speakers, including the senior engineering director of Google, Steven Woods, the mayor of Kitchener, Berry Vrbanovic, and the past president of Christie Digital, Gerry Remers.

“It’s clear that the community wants and needs this kind of space,” said Mary Chevreau, CEO of the KPL.

According to the latest Pew Research Centre report, entitled Libraries 2016, approximately 80 per cent of Americans think that libraries should teach people how to use technology and digital tools like computers, smartphones and applications. Fifty per cent of Americans think that libraries should buy digital media tools, like 3D printers, and allow people to use them.

“Everything evolves. Dictionaries evolve and definitions evolve and libraries evolve,” said Stephanie Rozek, HIVE Waterloo Region founder and KPL guest librarian. HIVE is a global network that promotes digital literacy.

During speeches, Woods said, “YouTube is the new way of learning. It combines people who want to learn with people who want to teach.” The Studio will bring these people together face-to-face, and allow them to use what they’ve learned in practice.

“Throughout time, libraries have been synonymous with literacy, and now we have a new type of literacy: digital literacy,” said Bob Egan, manager of community connections and development at the KPL, when speaking about why Studio Central is important to Waterloo Region and the library.

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