Ilsley Library rolls out tools to digitize music, photographs

MIDDLEBURY — Patrons of Middlebury’s Ilsley Public Library now have an extra reason to go into their respective attics to dust off their old slides, photos and LP records. That’s because the Ilsley, in tandem with Middlebury Community Television (MCTV), will soon unveil its new digital media lab, a facility that will, among other things, allow folks to bring their favorite memorabilia, music and entertainment into the 21st century.
The new media lab is tucked into a small room on the second floor of the Main Street library. It will be soundproofed and currently hosts a variety of electronic equipment, including an iMac workstation, studio-grade audio recording devices, a turntable, cassette player, VCR/DVD deck and scanner. On the wall fronting the equipment station is a “green screen” background against which a person can engage in a Skype conversation. A studio at the other end of that conversation can replace that green screen background with another scene — such as a vista of the Green Mountains or a panorama of the Middlebury College campus, explained Kurt Broderson, technical coordinator for both MCTV and the Ilsley Library.
“It’s a very visible statement of collaboration between the Ilsley Library and MCTV,” Broderson said, noting the two entities split the $5,000 cost of the room. “It’s nice to have this kind of presence on the active library floor, where the patrons are.”
MCTV is located in the upper floor of the Ilsley, where the local cable access company films some of its local shows and does production work. MCTV programming is available to Comcast subscribers on channels 15 and 16 and much of it is also available online at middleburycommunitytv.org. It should be noted that MCTV and the Ilsley also collaborate on after-school broadcasting workshops for local students, and video camps during school vacations.
Broderson said the new media room sprang from inquiries MCTV Executive Director Richard Thodal has received in recent years from area residents looking for more polished production facilities. Library and MCTV officials had hoped to create the new facility a year ago, but the project was tabled at that time during a townwide debate about a new municipal building. At one point, library leaders and the town selectboard discussed the concept of essentially merging a new municipal building with the library — a concept that ultimately fell by the wayside.
The new facility will serve two functions: to support the creation of digital media, and to support the digitization of analog audio, video, and photographic material.
Once the media lab is unveiled on Feb. 10, users will be able to sign up for a block of time to work in the room. At this point, Broderson suspects time will be doled out in two-hour blocks. Users will exchange their Ilsley Library card for the key to the media lab, and they’ll be offered some tutelage on how to use the room equipment. Patrons will be expected to bring their own CDs or DVDs on which they would like to transfer their cassette, LP or videocassette material. The lab is wired for Ethernet.
Broderson believes patrons will be surprised with what they will be able to do with the media lab tools. Want to convert photographic slides and/or negatives to digital immortality? No problem. Have some old Sinatra LPs that you’d like to transfer from vinyl to CDs? Easy. Need a small, noise-free venue in which to Skype with a business associate? The media lab has you covered. Want to edit a home movie on videocassette and then upload it onto your Facebook page? Sure thing.
In addition to hosting Skype conversations and Google Hangouts, Ilsley and MCTV officials envision the digital media studio being used for creating podcasts and recording voiceovers.
 “I’m excited about the business possibilities,” MCTV board member Jennifer Molineaux said of the potential of the media lab facilities to help local companies in their communication efforts.
A media lab open house has been scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 10, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the library. People will be invited to use the lab to create Valentine’s Day messages.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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