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Public libraries are changing, even in Beaufort County. Still stocked with books, DVDs, magazines and CDs, the St. Helena Island library is a little different from most models we are used to seeing. In the back corner of the building lies the Mac Media Production Lab, a place where customers can feed their creativity through the use of Macintosh computers, film equipment, 3-D modeling and graphic design software. Three-D printers and robotics kits are on the way this winter.
This summer, many classes involving digital arts have been offered at the St. Helena Island library for tweens and teens. Some of these include game design using Unreal Development Kit, Movie Making and Stop Motion Animation. Game design was a huge success; students had the opportunity to design a level in a first-person video game, add textures on surfaces and test their new game against each other via a test server. In the movie-making classes, students had the chance to write their own story, act out the story, shoot film using digital flip cameras and edit their footage in Final Cut Pro. Stop Motion Animation involved the students using Legos, working together as a team to pose their characters, take a picture and animate their hard work. Drawing Club for tweens and teens has also been offered on a drop-in basis. Aspiring artists get to hang out with their peers while bouncing creative ideas off of one another with light instruction.
As summer is drawing to a close for the younger set, classes will start heating up for adults in August. Adult customers soon will have the option to register for classes such as Intro to Mac Computers, Photoshop and Designing Holiday Cards this fall. There has also been an interest among the adult community to start a Drawing Club, which will start in September; students will get back to the basics and learn everything from still-lifes to landscapes and portraiture drawing.
One of the best-kept creative resources at the St. Helena Island library is the Audio Lab. In here, customers of all ages can record songs, mementos or oral history tracks through our provided microphones, sound board and Logic Pro software. On the island where "American Idol"'s Candice Glover grew up, residents can now follow in her footsteps and achieve their dreams in vocal and instrumental music.
Starting in the fall, the film equipment housed in the Mac Media Production Lab will become mobile through three of the branches within the Beaufort County Library system. This equipment will travel to the Beaufort, Hilton Head Island and Bluffton branches to teach class sessions on all aspects of film making, from capturing film to editing. Residents South of the Broad will be able to gain first-hand experience using state-of-the-art film equipment and learn about the artistic process of film through these workshops. Students will be given the opportunity to work with Panasonic flip cameras, microphones, and Windows Movie Maker for the workshops.
The Mac Media Production Lab and Audio Lab at the St. Helena Island library serve as a creative gateway for the residents of Beaufort County. All classes and services offered for these labs are free for those who hold a Beaufort County library card. Being creative is just as important as reading.
Melanie Florencio is the Computer Lab Instructor at St. Helena Island library.