Smoky Hill Library lets cardholders ‘check out’ studio
By Peter Jones
Jason Giardino is spending a lot of time in the public library these days, but not to check out or read books. In his marriage, that would amount to “library adultery,” according to the couple’s website at www.underlibraryarrest.com.
“We noticed that we tend to buy a lot of books and then get overwhelmed with being able to read them all,” said Giardino, who says the couple already has about 1,500 books gathering dust on their home shelves. “On Jan. 1, we made a promise to ourselves that we’re not going to buy any new books.”
The “adultery” rule also goes for picking up – so to speak – books in the library.
“For at least a year, we’re going to read the books that we have and blog about it,” Giardino explained. “I thought we should also record a podcast.”
Ironically, that venture has taken the couple right back to where their problem started – the public library, a place where two bookworms could easily feed their addictions with nothing more than free time and a free library card.
“We’re only allowed to check out books related to our jobs,” Giardino said.
Even so, the Giardinos have been spending a lot of time at Arapahoe Library District’s Smoky Hill Library in Centennial. True to their vows, the couple is there to make a quick and focused B-line – past the temptation of the bookshelves – not looking sideways until they have reached their destination, a little room behind the DVD section.
There, the Giardinos record and edit podcasts about their no-new-books pledge and conduct Web discussions on a range of other related subjects – from the couple’s love of trilogies to the books they blew off in high school and college.
The unusual pursuit is one of many multimedia projects that have taken shape in The Studio, the latest example of how public libraries have evolved in the face of the Internet, e-readers and other threats to the library, as we know it.
“To avoid obsolescence, this is the kind of thing that we need to do,” Librarian Nick Taylor said. “We’re no longer the gatekeepers of information. We need to find ways to help people participate. We thought it would be a great idea to have a specific place to meet a specific need to help people create.”
In other words, library patrons can now both consume and create “information,” be it music, drama, interviews, poetry, documentaries or some combination.
The Studio is equipped with a high-definition video camera, microphones and all the software needed to record and edit whatever content the producer comes up with. There is even 3D capability and the kind of “green screen” used by television meteorologists.
The Studio has been up and running for only a few weeks, but has already hosted a range of musicians, filmmakers and students working on class projects. The studio time is free. For a maximum daily reservation of three hours, all one needs is a library card from any district in Colorado.
“That’s the philosophy here. We want to be the equalizer,” Taylor said.
The “mostly soundproof” studio is yet another example of how today’s libraries are no longer your grandmother’s ultra-quiet rows of stately bookshelves.
“In newer libraries, you’ll see a quiet room and the rest of the library is everything else – instead of the other way around,” Taylor said.
The only other studio rule is a signed agreement to take care of the equipment. Those younger than 12 can use The Studio under adult supervision.
The Giardinos plan to continue using Smoky Hill’s facilities for the couple’s ongoing blog and website project, though the vociferous readers admit that their time in the library’s studio has – ironically – cut into their precious reading time.
“I even have a topic about that in the blog post,” Jason said with a laugh. “I recently realized at the age of 37 that I’m going to die without having read everything I want to read.”
At least, he will always know where to go to find more books.