Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Chapter 4: Library Digital Media Lab Profiles

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Chapter 4: Library Digital Media Lab Profiles

Article excerpt


Chapter 4 of Library Technology Reports (vol 50, no. 6) "Digital Media Labs in Libraries" describes the digital media lab projects at five libraries: University of Wisconsin-Madison's Design Lab; Studio 300 at the Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook, IL; the Bubbler's Media Lab at the Madison Public Library (WI); Studio I in the ImaginOn in Charlotte, NC; and Tulare County Teen Media Lab.


The following five libraries answered an eleven-question survey about their DMLs. These questions were curated from responses by librarians on various social networks about what they would like to know about DMLs. Theresa Cahill Agostinelli, a librarian, reviewed the survey before it was sent out as a Google Form.


The University of Wisconsin-Madison's College Library hosts DesignLab, a "media lab and design consultancy" for students. (1) The campus's student population is 43,000 as of fall 2013. (2) Jon McKenzie, the director of DesignLab, writes that the DML "complements other campus services by providing students with conceptual and aesthetic advice on media projects they produce for courses, student organizations, and professional development." (3) The beautiful design of the DML's website adds trust in the authority of the consultants as experts in media and design. The DesignLab opened in 2012.


Students go to the DesignLab to seek help in adding polish to their digital media projects. The consultant works with them for thirty-minute appointments. According to an interview with Channel3000, "McKenzie said he's also very interested in using DesignLab to help students build portfolios and preparing them to think about how they could share the work and research they've done even after a class ends." (4) By creating professional portfolios using a variety of media formats, which DesignLab refers to as Smart Media, students are taught how to turn a paper into a photo essay, then share their work on the web for prospective employers. The six categories of Smart Media are

* Video/Multimedia

* Presentation

* e-Writing

* Imagery

* Audio

* Web (5)

Examples of student work created in DesignLab are available in the Smart Media Gallery. (6)


McKenzie writes that the university raised funds for DesignLab through "a means-tested tuition increase focused on improving undergraduate education." (7) This funding comes through as the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates. The original 2010 proposal describing DesignLab and its benefits to the campus is available online. (8) The proposal also includes an estimated budget based upon the number of teacher assistants. The DML is open in the afternoons seven days a week.

Thanks to having a steady source of funding, DesignLab was able to create several new positions: a faculty director, a staff associate director, and nine teacher assistant design consultants. The nine consultants were hired from various programs across multiple colleges. Their skills include "art, communication, data visualization, design studies, educational media, graphic design, information studies, rhetoric and writing, and videography." (9)

Marketing of DesignLab is done through traditional student outreach. This means through flyers and social media that students see around and through events on campus. Newer methods include digital kiosks, targeted e-mails, and the library's Digital Salon exhibition. The Digital Salon is "an exhibition of new media projects." (10) While representing DesignLab at a school exhibition may not seem that new, the DML having guided many students toward success is a great way to market the consultants' services.



Since the teacher assistant design consultants come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, they are already well equipped to help students. …

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