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Squamish Nation students take West Van library's new recording booth for a spin

The sound recording booth can be used to create podcasts, songs, audiobooks or voiceovers

Those sitting at home with burning ideas for podcasts or pop songs now have a means of bringing them to fruition courtesy of the West Vancouver Memorial Library, who this week installed a brand new recording sound booth complete with all the bells and whistles.

The space, created with funding from the District of West Vancouver and the bequest of the late Robert Leslie Welsh, was formally opened on Tuesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony led by West Vancouver Mayor Mark Sager.

Nestled within the Community Computing Centre on the library’s lower level, it includes a control room, big enough for two, that is suited to recording podcasts or audiobooks, or for mixing and producing electronic beats or video. An adjoining live room fits up to four people and has been designed with musical instrument and ensemble recording in mind.

“We know that this studio will be a home for many other kinds of expression, from vocal, electronic, and instrumental music, to podcasts, audiobooks, voiceovers, oral histories and whatever else the imagination may bring,” said Sarah Felkar, the library’s Assistant Director.

Felkar said the booth looks like something “straight out of a TV show”, with impressive equipment, and plenty of buttons to press and knobs to turn.

“Everyone is so impressed with the lighting and the types of mics that we have, the range of equipment and just how well the soundproofing works,” she said, assuring that those recording will be given their privacy, and those hoping to read and study in the library will still do so peacefully without interruption.

The booth had been put to the test two weeks prior when Squamish Language and Cultural Teacher Tsitsáyxemaat Rebecca Duncan, and her students from Capilano Littlest Ones School descended upon the library to carry out the studio’s inaugural recording.

The group had gathered together to record the Squamish names of the native plants that reside in the Library’s community demonstration garden, Swáy̓wi Temíxw. The recordings will soon be available on the library’s website, enabling its visitors to take an audio tour of the native plant garden.

“The children loved it, they were like little movie stars,” said Duncan.

“It was so exciting for them, especially given how professional the equipment was. They were amazed at being in this soundproof, tiny little room where they could put their headphones on and get involved.”

Duncan said she already envisions the booth being put to great use, and hopes to see it being used to record songs in the Squamish language, and audiobooks of stories that have been translated into the Squamish language.

The library’s director Stephanie Hall said one of things she “truly admires” about the West Vancouver Memorial Library team is their strategic approach to introducing new technology, and how they prioritise the needs of the community.

“Starting from a place of our core values, they look at each new technology and ask ‘how will this help people in their lives?’” she said.

“It’s not enough to just bring forward the newest, shiny tech. It has to make a difference for people.”

Over the coming months the library will be offering a whole suite of programs, including mandatory orientation sessions, to get people ready for using the studio, its equipment, and software, as well as for creating and editing podcasts.

Studio time is available to all West Vancouver library cardholders starting May 23.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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