2013-12-19 / News

Library secures grant for upgrades

By Ken Shane

According to Donna Fogarty, the library’s meeting hall is home to more than 300 events per year, with a total attendance of around 8,000 people.

The room hosts a diverse schedule of events, the library director said. This week alone the Conanicut Island Land Trust held its annual meeting, young violinists performed a recital, author Rory Raven discussed his newest book, women stretched during yoga class, and children were treated to “Frosty the Snowman” on the big screen.

Many of these events include videos, music and PowerPoint presentations. That’s why the recently secured $31,195 grant to improve the audio and visual components in the meeting hall is welcome news to a wide variety of stakeholders.

Fogarty said the mission of the meeting hall is to provide programs for the community, by the community. In the past, setting up events could be challenging, especially with the variety of equipment that presenters use during their appearances. Mac vs. PC, for example.

“It became cumbersome, not knowing what people were going to be using,” said Fogarty, who is approaching her four-year anniversary as library director. “It became clear that we should look into upgrading, especially with all of the new technology that’s out there.”

It has been 20 years since the meeting room was first built, and during that time, there have been advances in the quality of movie screens. The library’s had a license to show films for many years, but with the relatively recent advent of the DVD era, more films are being shown than ever. Along with an international film series, the meeting hall is also host to a weekly Sunday matinee.

According to Fogarty, it became clear that upgrades were needed to the screen, projector and audio equipment.

“Because we’re showing so many films now, we thought we would invest in something that would make the films a little bit more enjoyable,” she said.

Fogarty has been working to upgrade technologically since her first year in Jamestown. She made a call in the summer of 2011 to Flint Audio Video and the company came to assess the equipment. The Flint technicians found there was a need for a new projector. The company donated one. Flint also included new speakers to improve the audio quality in the room. Because of the high ceilings in the meeting hall, it is not optimal acoustically and sound tends to echo. The upgrades were an improvement.

Recently, however, Fogarty attended a travel program and she was put off by the blurry picture that lacked detail. She decided more work was needed. So she applied to the Champlin Foundations for a grant earlier this year. The gift of about $31,000 was awarded in November.

According to Fogarty, the first priority is to acquire a better screen. She is also looking to purchase a kiosk that will allow a variety of computers to be plugged in at the same time. There will also be additional audio improvements.

Fogarty has visited several other Rhode Island libraries to see how they have upgraded their systems. She has also perused library journals to see what people are recommending. Fogarty expects to call Flint again for its expertise.

Ocean State Libraries, a consortium of Rhode Island libraries, employs a technology expert who can be consulted as well. All of the work has to go out to bid. As a result, Fogarty expects the project to go forward in the autumn of 2014.

One of the programs that will benefit most from the upgrades is the annual international film series sponsored by Friends of the Library. Susi Pendlebury and Julia Montminy head the committee that organizes the program. Pendlebury chooses the films, and Montminy handles advertising and publicity.

Pendlebury has chosen a theme each year she’s been tasked with choosing movies. Past themes have included “The Power of One,” “Family Relations” and “Community.” The theme for the 2014 film series will be “Acceptance.” Pendlebury uses a variety of resources to help fit the themes, including the Internet Movie Database and Netflix.

“I do keep in mind our audience,” Pendlebury said. “I don’t choose something that would be violent. Generally I try to choose films that are thoughtful. Hopefully some of them are humorous. I think the films for the upcoming series are thoughtful and poignant.”

Pendlebury has been involved with the series for four years, although it has been ongoing for more than two decades. In recent years attendance has dropped off as a result of other film presentations on the island. For the upcoming series, the format has been changed. A film will be shown once a month, on the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m., through May.

The film series kicks off Jan. 7 with a French film, “The Well- Digger’s Daughter.” The movie is about a father in pre-World War France who is torn between honor and the love for his daughter after she gets in trouble with a wealthy boy.

February’s movie will be “Kiseki,” a Korean film about a 12-year-old boy who is separated from his brother following the divorce of their parents. In March, “Where Do We Go Now?” will be shown. The film is about a group of Lebanese woman who attempt to improve bitterness between Christians and Muslims in their village. “The Grocer’s Son” in April is a French film about a man who leaves home but reluctantly returns years later to take over the family business after his father has a stroke. The final movie, “My Afternoons with Margueritte,” is another French film. The comedic drama is about an illiterate man who befriends an educated elderly woman.

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