The days of being relegated to whispers in the library are over.
Edmonton Public Library unveiled two sound booths at its Stanley Milner branch Thursday, where local musicians can practise and record for free.
EPL provides acoustic and electric guitars, amps, a bass guitar, a keyboard, microphones, and a computer equipped with GarageBand -- all in two soundproofed booths inside the library's Makerspace.
Peter Schoenberg, EPL's manager of digital literacy and web services, believes Edmonton is the first city in Canada to offer such a service.
"It very much fits into the Makerspace idea of citizens being engaged and creating, as opposed to just borrowing our content and taking it home," he said.
Musicians only need a library card to book time for jamming or recording, which is generally a pricey endeavour.
The Makerspace is already equipped with a 3D printer, a book printer, a green screen for photography, a robotics program, and tools to create video games.
"Free means there's no barrier to creation," Schoenberg said.
"This is a facility for people who are getting started - people who want to make their first album, make their demo track, print the first copy of their book. This is a place for firsts and creation and new beginnings."
The creative tools have an added entrepreneurial aspect, he said, as projects created at the Makerspace could lead to bigger commercial entities and ultimately help diversify the local economy.
Coun. Scott McKeen, who laid down some licks on his Fender LSL electric guitar Thursday, said the sound booths help the city in its aim to foster more live music and keep successful bands from leaving for bigger cities.
He called the project "a tremendous opportunity" for young Edmontonians.
"I think there's probably a line you could draw from a place like this, maybe to the Grammys someday," he said. "I know that sounds like an over-reach, but where does that start out? It starts out somewhere."
McKeen, for the record, played Jimi Hendrix and Deep Purple covers with a band called Foxx in his high school days.
"We weren't very good," he said. "I think we probably drank more beer when we were rehearsing than anything else."
Recordings made in the sound booths could one day turn up on EPL's new Capital City Records online music archive.
EPL is taking submissions at capitalcityrecords.ca for a digital music library that will allow users to stream music by local artists as well as find posters, photos and videos.
Submissions are open until Feb. 23 for the site's first batch of music, and Capital City Records will add 100 albums a year to its collection.
Source: Edmonton Sun