Provo Library opens creative lab, escape rooms

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A camera, along with other equipment, is set up and ready to be used by Provo residents who have current library cards. Residents can use the equipment to film and record things like commercials, music videos and podcasts. (Provo City Library)

The Provo City Library has been many things over the years. It opened in 1892 as Brigham Young Academy, based on designs by Academy Principal Karl G. Maeser. It was one of the largest school buildings in the area at the time. It eventually became Brigham Young High School which closed in 1968. The building remained abandoned until it became the Provo City Library after a bond passed in 1997.

The library continues to change. Though it has changed, it still provides many services to Provo residents, which include BYU students regardless of how long they have lived in Provo. Once a resident acquires a card, they can participate in numerous activities and gain access to many programs, classes and opportunities.

The library’s newest additions include escape rooms and a creative lab specializing in audiovisual production. Along with a wide selection of popular books and movies, the library provides entertainment areas and study services.

The creative lab, located in the basement, provides cameras, lighting and audio equipment. According to lab technician Westin Cross, there is almost no end to what can be done in the creative lab.

Cross said popular uses of the equipment are for recording podcasts, audiobooks and musical performances.  

Provo Library creative lab technician Westin Cross prepares the lab for various groups to come and use equipment like cameras and lights. (Lauren Lethbridge)

Those hoping to use the lab must first take an hour-long course that goes over equipment use, safety and the basic functions of the facility. Class registration is conducted online, where patrons can view class schedules and reserve the facility. 

When I’m teaching the class, I just want my students to feel comfortable and walk away feeling confident they can safely use the space,” Cross said.

Escape rooms are another addition. Escape rooms are themed games where participants solve riddles and puzzles to exit and win. The escape rooms are conducted in the library’s private study rooms.

Escape rooms are an on-demand program, said Maegan Hanson the adult and teen reference librarian, who created and currently runs the program.

Hanson said the idea came in 2016 when the library ran a temporary Star Wars-themed room for teens. After many adults showed an interest, Hanson and a few coworkers designed a harder room based on another library’s design.

We hope to make more and continue to have people coming in and engaging with us here at the library, which is something we truly enjoy from our patrons,” Hanson said.

An escape room can be booked and prepared one week in advance for a maximum of eight people per group. The library currently offers a wizard themed room that is easier and gives players 45 minutes to escape.

An advanced Sherlock Holmes room opened the beginning of November and is also available to groups wanting a higher difficulty level, according to Hanson.

The library also gives cardholders access to studying tools like Lynda.com, a database that provides videos and tutorials for things like software use, coding and camera use, said Shaina Robbins, the library’s assistant community relations coordinator.

Learning Express Library is another study tool available through the library that offers a variety of programs to help users prepare for tests like the GRE, improve workplace skills, prepare for interviews and learn more about basic computer programs like Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint, according to Robbins. 

Many of these services are free to the public with a library card. Any Provo resident is eligible for a card. For BYU or UVU students who are not originally from the Provo area, residency can be proven by any document providing a current Provo address or Provo residence rental contract, Robbins said.

Not all library services require a card. The library has two gallery spaces, one of which typically highlights local artists.

Along with art, the library provides game nights every Friday and musical performances that run the first, third and fifth Monday of every month.

The library also holds a monthly yoga class, an adult coloring night and a series of classes called “Learn It” that cover topics like painting, dating and inexpensive travel, Robbins said.

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