We’re delighted to welcome Melissa Morrone back to the site to share an update on the multifunctional community Info Commons at Brooklyn Public Library.  Read on to learn more about a special volunteer who helps to teach users about the recording studio as a way to give back to his community. And don’t miss the other exciting posts in our series on BPL’s Info Commons! ~Erinn


Meet Bryan Samuels, a volunteer at BPL’s Info Commons who shares his professional knowledge in a weekly orientation called Media World.

by Melissa Morrone, Brooklyn Public Library

We had a recording studio. We needed a guide.

When Brooklyn Public Library’s Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons opened in January, we were extra nervous and excited about the recording studio. We had decided during the construction to turn one of the seven free meeting rooms into an amateur studio with a camera, microphone, and green screen. A couple of our colleagues in IT who specialize in audiovisual resources helped us choose and set up the equipment and software, but we knew that we didn’t have the capacity to give on-demand assistance to patrons who weren’t already familiar with it all. And although we were hosting digital media classes from the moment we opened the Info Commons, it wasn’t the same as providing guided instruction to our particular studio.

Into this void stepped Bryan Samuels…He approached us to offer his services and started doing a weekly orientation to the recording studio called Media World.


Bryan conducting a Media World orientation for the BPL recording studio.

Into this void stepped Bryan Samuels, 27. Bryan is a community member who takes classes at BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn and works in film and photography. He approached us to offer his services, and in May, he started doing a weekly orientation to the recording studio called Media World. Response to Bryan’s classes has been enthusiastic, and I checked out a recent session and talked to Bryan about his motivation for doing it.

The evening’s assignment was to go out into and around the library building and take photos, which would then be uploaded to a website (the theme is “Keep Brooklyn Reading”) that Bryan has been working on, from scratch, with the shifting participants of the program week to week. “Don’t feel the pressure to be perfect,” he told the assembled group, but “take all the creativity in your mind” when creating the images.

Bryan started learning film and photography when he was 21… but he’s very aware that not everyone has those opportunities.


Attendees at Media World on September 5th, 2013

Bryan started learning film and photography when he was 21, though he “always had a passion for the visual.” He also has a passion for helping his community—he himself learned his skills in various academic settings, but he’s very aware that not everyone has those opportunities. Here, he wants to give people the chance to learn discipline, teamwork, and the craft itself. I asked Bryan to describe himself as an artist, and he said that he’s about quality in anything he pursues. He has to have a reason behind his creations and doesn’t do things “just because” or rush the process.

A variety of backgrounds, ages, and goals have come through the recording studio orientations. One woman who was there at the recent session said she’d had an idea for a movie in her head “since 2008” and wanted to finally realize it. The youngest participant ever, Bryan recalled, was a high school sophomore whose mother had wanted to enter her in a singing contest. The application required a video, and neither of them knew how to make one. The deadline came and went before they could pull something together, but they wanted to try for next year’s contest, so they came to Media World to learn the skills they’d need to create a video.

Community partners–and volunteers– are central to any library, even in the context of a digital media lab like our recording studio at the Info Commons. Reaching out to professionals who want to share their knowledge to give back means that our community can learn to use Info Commons resources and make connections with a neighbor at the same time.

Want more?

Get in touch with the Info Commons folks here: infocommons@brooklynpubliclibrary.org, and be sure to follow @bpl_infocommons on Twitter!

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