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Local library offers advanced technology, keeping teens out of trouble

When you think of a library you of course think: books. But, the St. Joseph County Public Library says there are many ways to learn-- and they’ve got them!

It’s been about a year since the library finished work on their media room but it’s already changing lives, turning a page from the old way of learning and taking a step into Studio 304.

“I come here to stay away from the negative things. Keeping me out of trouble, keeping me out of doing the negative things I used to,” said 16-year-old Rico of South Bend.

Rico didn’t want to talk about his troubled past he wants to focus on what he’s creating now: music.

“Music is everything, everything. It’s my whole life.”

Music he and his friends have been creating inside the audio production room at Studio 304.

“It enables me to expand what I’m trying to do, expand my mindset,” said 13-year-old Greg.

But Studio 304’s location might surprise you.

“You think of library and you think of stacks of books and you think of very nice lady’s in cardigan sweaters who say ‘shh’ a lot,” said Nick Schaffer, Coordinator of Communication and Development.

Located at 304 Main St., the studio has audio and video production rooms, 3-D printers, Mac computers with advanced programs and dozens of other free resources.

Schaffer says it’s those advanced resources that will keep the St. Joseph County Public Library relevant.

“Technology at one point was this big trend, it was this cool thing but the reality is technology incorporated in every part of our life. We’re still a center for reading and literacy but that incorporates technological literacy as well,” said Schaffer.

It’s incorporating all that technology that Schaffer says sets the library apart from others.

“We were the first public library in the US to have a web page back in the early 90's and ever since then we’ve just been very immersed in technology. It really represents that South Bend and St. Joseph County are changing and evolving and we are too,”said Schaffer.

An evolution Schaffer also sees in the patrons of Studio 304.

“They’re laying down some tracks that are just really cool and you’re thinking these are high school kids and they’re really doing it and they’re making it sound top notch. And it’s exciting to see that and to hear them tell their friends about it and get excited that’s the coolest part for me,” said Schaffer.

Rico and Greg say they’re thankful for the free resources that are keeping them busy and out of trouble.

“Like three weeks ago I was doing bad stuff like now I have something good to do in here. A blessing, that’s what it is. A real blessing,” said Rico.

For more information about the resources offered at the St. Joseph County Public Library, click here.

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