If you’re quiet in this library space, you’re doing it wrong
Remember when libraries were silent places?
“You’ll often see people dancing from this window,” said TerryJosiah Sharpe, a senior library associate with the Pikes Peak Library District’s Sand Creek Library. As he spoke, Sharpe snapped his fingers, a thick head of dark hair bobbing in time to a song only he could hear.
He wasn’t being glib. Sharpe is one of two sound and production experts who man a state-of-the-art recording studio at Sand Creek.
“It really is a hub and a networking place for musicians and talent,” he said.
From its microphones and instruments to its computer-assisted editing software and sound-mixing equipment, the Studio at Sand Creek is jam-packed with the same type of items you would find in a professional New York or Los Angeles recording space.
Only here, it’s free.
Anyone who wishes to record a track — whether it is a musical piece, spoken word, a comedy routine or a podcast — may do so, provided the patron attends an hour-long training session and books the space in advance.
“It really is a hub and a networking place for musicians and talent.”
Like a singer/songwriter searching for the perfect lyric, the Studio at Sand Creek didn’t come together easily.
Library District Chief Executive John Spears asked then-Sand Creek Branch Manager Abby Simpson and her team to find a way to increase access to creative outlets in the Southeast branch. The original plans called for a small makerspace, but Spears tasked the team to up the ante.
Simpson is an advocate for the neighborhood’s burgeoning music scene, so she tapped Keegan Kellogg, a creative services library associate and longtime musician, to design a recording space to rival the best in the business.
“Really, it was John telling Abby and the people who work here, ‘dream bigger, do more.’ They did and this is what we got,” said Sand Creek Branch Manager Jake Rundle. “The vision they had for it is just spectacular. I can’t wait for the Pikes Peak Library District to do the next thing.”
The studio, which was built with the help of Comcast, is stocked with about $25,000 worth of equipment, including instruments, mixing boards and conversion equipment. Renovation of the space — it was once a café area with vending machines — cost about $385,000, Kellogg said. The next addition, due to be escorted to Sand Creek from Germany this year, will be a vinyl cutter for musicians who want to make records, Rundle said. Currently, the studio records strictly in digital.
And while some people doubtless miss the sodas and snacks, Studio at Sand Creek has been busy since its 2017 opening. About 450 people have attended orientation sessions, and one local musician recorded a full-length gospel album in the space.
“Everything gets used,” Kellogg said. “I am not going to say, ‘Hey, I knew all of this was going to work,’ but I got really lucky.”
No shushing here
For years, the tableau of a library depicted a silent place where adults and children sat bent over tables full of books, studiously taking notes or quietly swapping discoveries while a stern-but-helpful librarian kept a watchful eye on the proceedings.
Clearly, this isn’t that. If you’re quiet in the Studio at Sand Creek, you’re doing it wrong.
So how, exactly, does a recording studio — or a makerspace, for that matter — fit into the library’s mission of providing resources and opportunities that impact individual lives and build community?
For Rundle, it’s just another way to offer enhancements.
“Access isn’t just knowledge, access is things,” he said. “That’s why libraries have makerspaces and studios. Libraries are still serving the mission of providing equal access to information. Access just looks different in 2019 than it did in 1999.”
CHECK IT OUT
The Studio at Sand Creek is open to musicians, voice actors, comedians, poets, podcasters or anyone who is interested in cutting an audio recording. It is free to the public, provided library patrons attend an hour-long orientation session and book the space in advance. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
• Monday from 6 to 8 p.m.
• Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon and from 5 to 8 p.m.
• Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m.
• Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m.
• Friday from 2 to 4 p.m.
• Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon
• Sunday from noon to 1 p.m. (reserved for use of the drums) and from 1 to 3 p.m.
Orientation sessions take place most Saturdays, and the library hosts open mic/karaoke on a first-come, first-served from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursdays.
For more information or to register for a class, email Keagan Kellogg at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ppld.org/creative-services/studio-sand-creek.
The Studio at Sand Creek, located inside the Sand Creek Library, 1821 S. Academy Blvd., is staffed by two professional musicians and recording experts. However, volunteers who can help with all facets from backup vocals and instrumentals to production are always appreciated. All hopefuls must complete a volunteer application and be able to pass a background check.
For more information or the application, visit ppld.org/volunteer