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Magazines > Computers in Libraries > July/August 2024

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Vol. 44 No. 6 — Jul/Aug 2024

Why Your Library Needs a Multimedia Studio and How to Add One
by David Lee King

There are a variety of directions you can go with a studio.
Content is king at a library. Stories, information, how-to guides, books—we have it all. We also have information on how to create content: books on how to paint, how to build things, and how to write and record songs. Why not level up? If you launch a multimedia studio, you can help your community record a song or help them create a podcast on their favorite topic. Today’s easy-to-use content-creation technology is a great fit for a library that wants to help its community produce content. Let’s explore adding a multimedia studio space in your library. I’ll explain why a library should have a studio and provide some examples of multimedia studios in libraries. After that, I’ll discuss some considerations when planning a studio space.

Why Create a Multimedia Studio?

There are a variety of directions you can go with a studio. Let’s consider why a library might offer a multimedia studio. Libraries have historically helped customers create content through our book collections and our classes and events. For example, we offer books on writing and creating art, crafts, and business plans. My library (Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library) has offered classes on a variety of creative topics, such as paper-making and creating electronic dance music (EDM).

Some community studios, such as local recording studios, are disappearing. Larger cities still have them, but they are closing up in many communities. For example, when I moved to Topeka, Kan., in 2006, there were two or three commercial recording studios in town. Today, there are none. Musicians and businesses that traditionally used these spaces are buying equipment and setting up their own small project studios. However, not everyone has extra space, money for good equipment, and the knowledge to use the recording equipment and software. Libraries are uniquely positioned to fill that need. We’re trained to help customers create and are community-friendly institutions. We can provide the tools, the space, and the training.

Different Types of Multimedia Studios

As I mentioned earlier, there are different types of multimedia studios. Let’s discuss them.

Project studios—These are small spaces. A project studio might be in a study room-sized space or might even be just a table with equipment on it—a computer, an audio interface, and a microphone or two. This setup is great for any number of recording projects, such as recording a song or an oral history project or doing a multimedia project for school or work.

Editing labs—An editing lab is just a computer with audio and video editing software and maybe some speakers. These spaces are created for editing a project after it’s been recorded. You can use a larger recording room to capture the recording and then use the editing lab to finesse it. This frees up space for others to use the larger recording room.

Recording studios—These are similar to a project studio but offer more space. It’s generally a room large enough to hold a band and the recording equipment. It might also be a larger space with multiple rooms—maybe one to two recording rooms and a control room for the computer, sound board, etc.

Video/photography production spaces—These are in a similar-sized room as a recording studio, with a focus on video and photography projects. These rooms will include cameras, lights, tripods, backdrops, tables, and props. There are many variations of these concepts. For example, some libraries build multipurpose rooms and other types of combined spaces that I haven’t mentioned.

Examples of Multimedia Spaces in Libraries

Project Studios

Charles County Public Library—Charles County Public Library describes its Drop the Mic Recording Studio ( as a “full scale professional recording studio with a sound booth, microphones, and recording and mixing equipment.” From the photo on its webpage, it looks as if it offers what I’d define as a small project studio—a table with recording equipment on it—and a small soundproof booth for people to use for recording. Including a modular soundproof booth is a great idea for libraries that are space-challenged and noise-challenged, because recording projects can get loud.

Wichita Public Library—Wichita Public Library ( offers AV Studio, which includes a small multiuse space, a computer with appropriate software and speakers, an audio interface, microphones and stands, some cameras and lights for video and photography work, and a greenscreen for video-based projects. Here’s how the library describes it on its Facebook page: “Whether it’s recording a podcast, editing a social media video for your startup, or experimenting with music, the Advanced Learning Library’s AV Studio has the equipment and software you need. Designed for individuals and small groups, this free-to-use audiovisual recording and editing space is reserved on a first-come/first-served basis beginning one week before the desired date.”

Video Studios

Pikes Peak Library District—Studio21c ( is at one of Pikes Peak Library District’s branch libraries. It has a large room—25' x 35'—that is great for video and photography projects. The library recommends starting with a consultation before reserving the room. This allows staffers to go over the equipment offered and to help point the customer in the right direction.

Martin Public Library—The library’s Sound and Video Recording Studio ( offers cameras, a greenscreen, video cameras, and computers for the public to use. There is another room for media editing.

Recording Studios

Chattanooga Public Library—The Studio (, on the second floor of the library, is a 1,000-square-foot recording studio. This space offers multiple recording rooms—a vocal booth, a drum room, and a live room (for vocals, instruments, etc.). There is also a separate control room. Chattanooga Public Library is using this space as an educational facility—a place to learn how to record. Library customers can have two 3-hour sessions a month with a library card.

Olathe Public Library—The Studio ( is Olathe Public Library’s two-room recording space. One room serves as the live room, complete with drums, guitars, and keyboards. The other room is the control room and houses a mixing board, speakers, and a computer with audio recording software. The Studio can be set up for a variety of projects, such as music, podcasting, and video recording. Library patrons run the session on their own. Staffers can help set up, if needed.

Westport Library—Westport Library is a bit different than the other libraries in this list. It operates Verso Studios (, which is a commercial recording studio. The space is competitively priced ($120 per hour or $900 per day). It offers a professional recording studio, a live performance space with a broadcast control suite (for recording larger ensembles or for live streaming), a postproduction suite for editing, and some podcast studios. It also has professional-level staffers to run the recording sessions.

Combined Spaces

This category includes larger spaces or whole wings of a building and might feature public computers, meeting rooms, makerspace equipment, and recording studio spaces. Here are some examples of those spaces.

Fountaindale Public Library District—This library offers Studio 300 (, a combined space that includes a makerspace, video and audio recording capabilities, and computers. Its website lists some of what you can do in the space: shoot and edit video; record, edit, and mix audio and music; draw, color, and animate images; take, restore, and enhance photos; digitize photos, videos, films, and slides; and create custom swag in the maker lab.

Fayetteville Public Library—The Center for Innovation ( is a 5,000-square-foot space that provides a wide range of multimedia tools and is set up for workforce development and learning. It offers VR training on things such as forklifts and airplanes, a fabrication and robotics lab, and audio and video tools. It also has both audio and video studio space for multimedia projects.

Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library—My library offers the Level 2 Tech Center ( It’s a combined space on the second floor of the library that has 30 public computers, five small meeting rooms with Zoom capabilities, and a digital arts lab (Adobe, 3D printing, etc.).

There are also two recording rooms. Studio B is focused on video recording. It offers two cameras—one fixed on a wall and a movable one on a tripod. The room has lights, a Pearl Mini for live streaming, a PreSonus Studio 1824c audio interface, a bunch of microphones, and a small keyboard controller. This is a great room for video interviews and video podcasts. Studio A is for audio recording. It has the same audio equipment as Studio B, with a larger music keyboard. Both rooms have iMacs and the following software: Adobe Suite, GarageBand, iMovie, Apple’s Logic Pro, and PreSonus Studio One.

Studio A is great for podcasting. It can also be used for any number of recording projects, including recording an audio-based oral history project or recording a song. It’s a small space, so it would not accommodate full-size bands. But you could easily record a demo song there. Also, in both studios, there are acoustic panels that cut the sound levels down by about 30dB, which really helps with noise in the larger room.

Things to Consider

Now that we have looked at different examples of studio spaces, let’s think about some things to consider when planning a multimedia space.


What is the primary purpose of your space? Do you want a multi-function space, a podcast studio, a video or photography space, or a recording studio space for local bands to record? Each of these spaces will be set up in a different way and will need different types of equipment.

Sound Levels

Music is loud. Sometimes talking is loud. You will definitely need some type of acoustic dampening, even if you’re focused on oral history or podcast recording. You might consider some recording/noise guidelines (e.g., no drums before 5 p.m.).

Replacement Budget

Like any equipment-focused space, you will need to budget for equipment every year. Equipment that gets used can eventually break or become worn out. Some will be outdated in 5 years. So, have a line item for replacing and adding equipment as needed.


A creative, tech-focused space needs staffers who understand the equipment and the needs of customers using that equipment. You might have willing staffers who just need to be trained on the new space and equipment. If not, you can focus on hiring for the job or on finding volunteers.

Go Create

Libraries are uniquely positioned in the community to discover what their community wants to create and to offer the tools, spaces, and training to help patrons make some really cool, unique things. So, go and create with your community.
David Lee KingDavid Lee King ( is the digital services director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library in Topeka, Kansas. He explores social media, emerging trends, and websites on his blog at