tech workshop-iPad

Photo by Tsubaki Kaworu.

by Laura Damon-Moore

In addition to serving as places of inspiration and a venue for artists to showcase their creative work, libraries can also offer artists opportunities for professional development. In the creative community, professional development might mean workshops on website creation, business management, social media, and more (see our writeup on Hennepin County Library’s Work of Art Workshops for other ideas).

This winter we received an email from Phil Shapiro, educator and technology access advocate (and one of our awesome Twitter friends). He wrote to us about some assistance he gave a young artist, Abdul Razak, who grew up in Sierra Leone and now lives in Maryland. Abdul is an accomplished sketch artist who specializes in portraits. Phil helped “incubate” Abdul’s artwork by setting up a simple but effective artist’s website – a website that led local media to pick up Abdul’s story.

Phil encourages libraries and librarians to offer other types of technology workshop and assistance – and to not be afraid to look outside the library for venues where these kinds of workshops can be offered. Examples may include community centers, senior centers, computer labs in the school district. Don’t be afraid to think of an offsite workshop as an extension of the library – not unlike a bookmobile!

Librarians: do you offer technology workshops that you could market especially for artists? Art organizations (like co-ops or arts incubators) are great places to advertise these workshops or to talk with this population of users about the kind of technology skills they really need and want to develop (maybe the artists in your community have online portfolios already, but are interested in learning more about social media, or about apps that they might find useful in their work).

Artists: we’d love to hear from you on this topic. What tech workshop do you wish your local library offered just for you – is it a blogging workshop? Ins and outs of social media? How to edit audio/video? How to start your own YouTube channel? What are your ideas? Post them here in the comments or send them to us: and we’ll spread the word as we can.

Check out Phil Shapiro’s blog as well as his writings on the creative library.

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