Spokane Central Library’s new Media Studios open doors and break down barriers for local creators

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Spokane Central Library reopened on Monday, July 11 after two-and-a-half years of renovation, with plenty of new and improved additions to the space. We highlighted the finest of these features as we counted down to the big day, but as with all good things, we’ve saved the very best for last!

Just up the new Social Stairs, between the Inland Northwest Special Collections and nxʷyxʷyetkʷ Hall, you’ll find the Media Studios—a suite of soundproof rooms brimming with state-of-the-art equipment to meet all your recording needs. 

There’s a cozy production studio for podcasting or digital meetings; a video studio, complete with a green screen, teleprompter, tungsten and LED lights, and editing software; and a recording studio with three isolation pods, an audio booth, various musical instruments—including a drumset—and a synthesizer for use with Garageband.

All this and more, available for the low, low price of free.

Spokane Public Library’s director of marketing and communications, Amanda Donovan, explains, “One of our values at the Library is to showcase Spokane. So we want to provide Spokane artists and musicians an opportunity to create, to learn, to create albums, to create videos, and to make our community better through the arts.”

Rooms can be booked online in two-hour increments for practice or to use the self-serve recording station. 

For more involved recording, Donovan says two other options are available. 

“You can also use the studio for recording with our audio engineer, Andy Rumsey. He can help you record up to two hours, just kind of a rough cut of your audio recording.”

And if you want to produce an EP, or maybe even an album? You’re in luck!

“He will cut an album for you, which will also be available on our livestream platform that we have called Lilac City Records,” she said.

Rumsey can be booked for up to 40 hours to create the finished work. If you’re splitting hairs, there is technically a fee of sorts.

“In exchange for creating this album, you will need to volunteer for up to 40 hours with the library,” Donovan explained. “So it’s kind of a labor exchange—you get an album, we get volunteer hours working in the library.”

What each artist volunteers depends. Some may offer to teach lessons, some may opt to shelve books. So there’s no set task, and artists can negotiate to ensure they’re providing the best service while playing to their strengths. 

It all sounded a bit daunting, but Donovan assured us it’s set up to be user-friendly, with plenty of help available if needed! 

With that in mind, we wanted to take the studios for a test drive! So we recruited Spokane Public Library’s music education specialist, Andy Rumsey, and a talented local musician and instructor, Andrew Liljenberg, and set to work. 

Rumsey demonstrated just how easy it was to lay down a simple track in Garageband with the template created by the library, creating a four bar groove that will definitely get stuck in our heads. And sure enough, it was easier than expected! 

A four bar groove bound to get stuck in your head!

With that squared away, Liljenberg tried his hand in the studio. 

For his previous recordings, Liljenberg said he paid around $600 a day for studio time and services, which is on par with industry standards for a professional studio. He said his album Nightfall took between three and six months to complete, with some time spent rerecording tracks to achieve the desired sound. 

That’s a lot of $600 days, but the results are undeniably high quality.

And how did the Central Library’s recording studio compare? With Andy in the booth and Andrew at the keys, they gave it whirl. 

Rumsey set up the equipment as he would in a four-hour booked session and monitored levels while recording. At the end of a real session, he would mix the track into a rough cut. For this experiment, however, we let him off the hook.  

As for his part, Liljenberg tried both the upright piano, with sound captured via condenser mic, as well as a digital keyboard, with sound recorded digitally. 

The results, he said, were comparable. Despite some slight differences in recording methods and nuanced sound quality, the overall results were impressive.

“This is a great setup,” he said. “People that come here are going to be more than satisfied, I’m pretty sure of it.”

With that ringing endorsement, there was only one loose end to tie-up. 

Where to find a musician named ‘Drew’ to complete the set and form a trio? And what would would the band be called? We’re accepting suggestions for a catchy name, so feel free to submit some.

If you’d like to learn more about the Media Studios and all they offer, you can visit the Central Library’s website here.  

If you’re ready to dive in and would like to book any of the media studios, including the audio studio, you can signup online HERE. All you need is a free library card!

Looking for music lessons so you can take advantage of the audio studio? You can sign up for FREE lessons with Andy Rumsey at the Library website, too! Rumsey can teach guitar, bass, piano, ukulele, and drums, no experience needed. 

To listen to more of Andrew Liljenberg’s work, you can find him on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, or most anywhere else music can be streamed. 

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