A Mac in Every Library

I’ve had a post like this in the back of my head for weeks now — really since I started messing with Apple’s iLife ’06, an application suite that makes podcasting and video creation a breeze! I wanted to write about what benefits a library would gain by buying a Mac or two (or more) to offer what I’ve been calling “Digital Creation Stations.”

While putting together our reading list and outlines with Jenny for the ALA Library 2.0 project, I reread Jessamyn’s Library 2.0: How do you share? and discovered Mathew Dames’ post about just such a thing! So, take a look…it’s a perfect solution!

I would love to see a library make an investment in M-Audio’s Podcast Factory so that those with a library card can create their own podcast material. This sort of initiative would require a contemporary computer with FireWire and USB ports, an external hard drive, a microphone, powered speakers, audio editing software, a decent digital audio workstation, an audio interface, sound libraries, and a room (preferably one that has some level of noise reducing insulation). The Podcast Factory includes the microphone, the interface, the sound libraries, the editing software (the free open source audio recorder and editor Audacity), and the digital audio workstation (a stripped down version of Ableton Live).

The ideal computer for this sort of venture would be an Apple iMac because it is powerful, optimized for multimedia work, is space efficient, and includes its own suite of “prosumer” multimedia tools (including GarageBand, Apple’s entry level digital audio workstation). For a few extra bucks, the library could invest in an Apple Loops collection for additional sound sources.

I estimate this sort of venture would cost the following:

M-Audio’s Podcast Factory: $180.00
Apple iMac G5: $2,000.00
Apple Loops Jam Packs collection: $200.00
USB keyboard controller: $350.00
Powered speakers: $350.00

The prices have changed as have the Mac models but this is a great roadmap to adding high-powered, easy to use multimedia creation to any library. Dames also urges librarians to seek grants from Apple etc. Good stuff!