Community members will have increased access to free digital media training and equipment, thanks to a new partnership between Akron Community Foundation and the Akron-Summit County Public Library.
The Akron Digital Media Center, funded by Akron Community Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, reopened today in a newly created space on the first floor of the downtown Main Library, offering another resource for library patrons and increased community visibility for the media project that has trained more than 500 residents.
The media center was launched in 2010 to help cultivate local storytelling and community news gathering. It offers free multimedia workshops in blogging, news writing, photography, videography and video editing, as well as one-on-one mentorships that train community members to serve as journalists and neighborhood storytellers in the digital age.
The program also includes the website Akronist.com, a portal for stories created by members of the program and media partners with a special focus on nonprofits, arts, entertainment and social issues.
“Working with the library represents an exciting new phase of the project,” said John T. Petures Jr., president and CEO of Akron Community Foundation. “Both of our organizations are focused on improving life for Summit County residents, and the library, being a public space, offers more residents the opportunity to enjoy these services.”
“This collaborative partnership with Akron Community Foundation will help the Akron Digital Media Center expand our residents’ ability to engage in the digital world,” said David Jennings, library director. “It also benefits the library by generating online content for us – recordings of library events or programs we currently do not have the capacity to produce.”
Chris Miller, the Digital Media Center’s director, explained that the program’s training was built around the concept that accessing and sharing community news is a basic human right. “The goal of our media curriculum is to remove barriers for Akron-area residents so that they can connect and communicate more effectively in this information age,” he said.
Anyone may participate in the program, regardless of economic background, skill level, age or demographic, Miller said. In fact, one of the program’s goals is to equip local residents with skills that make them more marketable in the current economy.
Miller said he looks forward to collecting stories from new voices in the community and offering a heightened level of media engagement for the library’s more than 300,000 cardholders. The media training sessions will complement the library’s array of computer classes, as digital literacy is vital to the mission of the Akron Digital Media Center and the Akronist, he added.
The library offers more than 50 different classes, ranging from basic computing and mouse skills to more complex applications like Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint.
In 2011, with the help of the Knight Foundation’s grant for mobile computer training, the library system provided 685 computer classes for a record 5,831 participants.
Along with offering training sessions at least three days a week starting Feb. 16, the Akron Digital Media Center offers a cutting-edge computer lab that community members may use to edit videos and photos and access other creative digital software.
To become a community journalist or to see the training schedule, visit www.akronist.com/training. Or, to learn more about the Akron Digital Media Center, contact Chris Miller at 330-714-6550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Akron Community Foundation
Celebrating 56 years of building community philanthropy, Akron Community Foundation embraces and enhances the work of charitable people who make a permanent commitment to the good of the community. It is a $135 million philanthropic endowment with a growing family of nearly 400 funds established by charitable people and organizations from all walks of life. For more information about Akron Community Foundation or to learn more about creating your own fund, call Dr. Suzanne Allen at 330-376-8522.
About the Akron-Summit County Public Library
Composed of Main Library, 17 branch libraries and mobile services, the Akron-Summit County Public Library provides resources for learning and leisure, information services, meeting spaces, and programs for all ages that support, improve, and enrich individual, family, and community life. For more information about the programs and services of the Akron-Summit County Public Library, visit www.akronlibrary.org.