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Downtown Kissimmee Area Council Awards Downtown Beautification Award to TechCentral at Hart Memorial Library

Last week the Downtown Kissimmee Area Council awarded their September/October Downtown Beautification & Innovation Award to TechCentral, part of the Osceola Library System. The Downtown Beautification Award has recently been renamed to include “Innovation,” a nod to the fact that sometimes the most impactful improvements to our downtown are not strictly visual.  This award recognizes the efforts of Downtown businesses to make physical improvements or innovative enhancements to Downtown Kissimmee.

TechCentral is a high-tech maker space that is part of the Osceola Library System. Found on the second floor of Hart Memorial Central Library in Downtown, it is accessible to anyone who lives, works, or attends school in Osceola County.  “Not everyone can afford a Mac computer, and certainly not everybody can have their own virtual reality headset,” said Library Director Amy Jones-Lee, “We’re happy to make that available so everybody can experience technology and what technology can do to better your life.”

When a visitor first enters TechCentral, they find themselves in the Virtual Reality Lobby.  A TechCentral facilitator explained that after a training session, patrons can book the area and experience virtual reality, and a selection of headsets are available.  The rest of the space offers a smorgasbord of tech options, including a sewing room, photography studio, recording studio, 3D printer, Mac computer stations, and a soundproof booth.  While the goal is to teach users to be self-sufficient with the technology, TechCentral staff is on site to provide guidance to users.  The space is perfect for those looking to explore potential career, or career enhancement, options.  “It gives people the chance to come in and try something out before you want to completely dive in,” said Candice Casey, who oversees the project for the Library, “Maybe you want to try that as a new career, or maybe you don’t.  So it’s the chance to try it first.”

The Mac Lab is located in a central area that supports the other rooms.  Seven Mac desktop computers are available for use.  They are loaded with Adobe Creative Suite and 3D printing software and any other programs needed to work on projects created in other rooms in the space.

In the recording studio we met up with Osceola County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb, who has already booked guitar lessons at TechCentral.  When she perfects her new instrument, she can come in and record tracks. The recording studio includes recording equipment, a drum machine, industry-standard mics, various software, and much more.  “I own a guitar and one of my bucket list items was to learn how to play that guitar,” Commissioner Grieb explained.  The County Commission and County admin staff were instrumental (no pun intended) in bringing TechCentral to life.

In the photography studio, we spoke to LaVell Monger with RTW Photography.  LaVell has partnered with TechCentral as a guest teacher.  “It’s remembering how it was when I was younger and I first started.  How can I do my part in the photography industry of cutting the next generation of photographers’ time in half – of learning the technical skills as well as giving them the eye?” said LaVell.   The photography studio features high-end cameras that might be too pricey for most individuals along with professional lighting equipment and an assortment of backdrops, including a green screen.  There is also a full, four wall, floor-to-ceiling, green screen room.

After a training session, library patrons may book each TechCentral feature for up to an hour at a time.  Visit OsceolaLibrary.org/TechCentral to book.  The Library’s YouTube page also features pre-visit instructional videos to get you prepared for your session.  View our visit to TechCentral with Positively Osceola and the DKAC below.

Photos courtesy of RTW Photography.

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