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The Flossmoor Public Library used to be a place people went for something someone else had created — a book, a musical recording, a movie. Now it also has a “makerspace” where people can create something of their own, from an oil painting to an animated movie.

At Inspiration Station, there’s even a helpful hint from Thomas Edison on the wall: “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”

But anyone who’s moved to follow Edison’s inspirational advice will find not junk but the latest in technological equipment, from an iMac Apple computer loaded with creative software like InDesign (for graphic design) and Audacity (an audio editor and recorder) to several other high-tech devices.

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Inspiration Station also hosts a wide range of art classes that draw small groups to the space as well. Patrons have signed up for painting classes with professional artist and art instructor Patricia Moore; courses in felting, scrapbooking and jewelry-making; and, for the literary-minded, a “blackout poetry” evening where participants start with a sheet of text and cross out unwanted words to create a poem.

“We created the Inspiration Station as a space for personal growth, creative endeavor and personal development,” said Janet DiCastro, the library’s programming coordinator and public relations coordinator.

Since Inspiration Station opened six months ago, the most frequently used equipment has been the devices that enable patrons to transfer home movies from VHS tapes to DVD and to convert slides and photo negatives into digital files, DiCastro said.

When it comes to using the equipment, only one person has access to the Imagination Station at a time, although they can bring in friends or relatives. Pamela Moseberry of Flossmoor used a couple of devices at a time, transferring movies and music to digital files. “The directions are very easy to follow,” she said.

To help patrons use the technology, DiCastro has also hosted the course, “Introduction to the Inspiration Station,” as well as classes on how to use each specific piece of equipment.

“I also created ‘cheat sheets’ for each piece of equipment, and I’m available to answer questions,” she said.

One popular device is the Elgato, which does not even use a computer to turn VHS tapes into DVDs. “It’s simpler to use than a smartphone,” she said. Possibly the most taxing aspect of using it is that it converts in real time.

“If you have a one-hour VHS tape, it takes one hour to convert it to DVD,” she said. “That’s actually made a difference for a handful of people, who came in with a stack of tapes to convert. Once they found out they’d have to sit and wait for each tape, they decided that one tape was all they really wanted to convert.”

While waiting, patrons can use any of the other equipment in the room, including the iMac for web browsing. Since some people are more comfortable using a PC, DiCastro said, the library can also provide a laptop. Others opt for the most traditional use of a library and sit back with a book while one media converts to another.

Moseberry decided to use the Elgato and the EZ Vinly/Tape Converter simultaneously.

“While the movies were being transferred from VHS to DVD, I transferred five cassette tapes to audio files,” she said. Her first VHS conversion? Home movies of herself as a child, which she had already converted from Super8 film to videotape. Now the movies are on a DVD, she said.

In addition to the ease of use, Moseberry said the equipment was extremely high quality, and she was glad to have access at no cost.

 “Some places will do this for you but they charge an arm and a leg,” she said. “This equipment is excellent. And to be able to use it for free, except for the time it takes you, is phenomenal.”

Inspiration Station even offers one piece of equipment that can be taken outside the library itself: a GoPro Camera, a tiny camera that a user can strap onto a clothing strap or bicycle helmet in order to film his or her own movement.

DiCastro said library officials would like more people to book time at the Inspiration Station to take advantage of the technology.

“If you can use a computer, you can use this technology,” she said. So far, users have ranged in age from teens to elderly patrons, DiCastro said.

“People are really amazed at what they can do.”

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