Stage Electrics Helps Leicester Stargazers

NEWBOLD VERDON LIBRARY gets high tech

Bristol, (PresseBox) - Set in stark contrast with the widespread cutback in library services by cash-strapped local authorities is a rising tide of local communities determined that these hubs of town and village life should not suffer the fate of red telephone boxes and disappear forever from Britain's cultural landscape. It is a fight that is seeing communal spirit making a dent in an all-pervasive economic nihilism.

The former coal mining town of Newbold Verdon, Leicester, has the first fully funded library built by the National Lottery, where its feisty manager, Christina Baker, has successfully created a community hub in a village without a community hall, by bringing in Stage Electrics to install a lighting, PA and video projection system in a bold attempt to breath new life into a social facility often viewed as outdated. "It's hard work but the rewards are worth it," she says proudly of Newbold Verdon village library, where "we had over 80 people to our Stargazing event."

The results have exceeded even her original optimism. The 'Friends of Newbold Verdon Library', all volunteers, run a cinema club on the third Tuesday of every month, showing a range of films from new releases like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to the classics such as Cinema Paradiso and there are children's movies too. As part of Reel Histories, guest speakers presented archive footage of the surrounding area, giving enormous pleasure to grandparents and grandchildren alike. "From the cradle to the grave, we've got something for everyone," says Christina.

The backstory inevitably centres around the challenge facing a large swathe of the UK's public libraries: finding a broader role in the age of the internet, in which Google and Amazon have become ready alternatives to borrowing a book. Faced with swingeing government funding cuts to local authorities, library managers the length and breadth of the land are seeking to expand their horizons and deliver value for taxpayers' money.

Keen to promote the use of the library for other things other than borrowing books, Christina seized an opportunity in a small lottery funding surplus to harness technology -providing facilities for community groups such as the astronomers' group, and to open up the space as a cinema. When Stage Electrics became involved, the remit broadened further.

The company's technical project manager Rob Sutton explained the brief was initially "to install an effective AV system, to allow the library capability for screening films. And because there's a lot of crossover between that and a performing arts system, we discussed other logical options. She was keen to make more use of the proposed cinema sound system and talked about putting some lighting in, for book launches, evening book readings or musicians. So it evolved into a small stage lighting system for live performances. The end result is that it does feel like it is the hub of the village, like community halls would be to other villages."

Business development manager Andy Elsegood adds: "We designed a mini rock'n'roll system with three roles: speech only with a couple of radio mics, live music, and cinema, all programmed up and ready to go. There's a very clear and simple dbx speaker management system where you choose from those three programmes, and a Kramer video switcher/scaler handling the video from a Tascam DVD player with laptop positions at front and rear. We installed the trunking in the form of a nice dado rail in a U shape around the space between a stage box at the front and nice cabinet in the rear made by a local furniture company. The library was closed for the installation for just three days; we worked around the clock with a good team to complete it."

The cinema system consists of a Sanyo PLC-XM150SE 6000 lumen projector matched with a 3 x 2.25m Screen International screen with RF remote control. Sound to accompany it is delivered through RCF ceiling speakers, and a pair of RCF TT4 range powered speakers left and right of the screen with an RCF 905 powered bass unit: "quite rock'n'roll oriented and very versatile," says Sutton. A Tascam iPod docking/CD player also provides an auxiliary 3.5mm input for other sources.

Stage lighting comprises two lighting bars with Selecon Acclaim fresnels, ETC Source 4 Juniors with a range of gobos and Encore PAR cans, controlled from a Zero 88 Juggler desk and a 24 way Chilli dimmer.

"People come from all over the place to join in our events, generating a healthy income to fund future events," says Christina Baker. But it doesn't stop there: she is also planning a commercial venture to create even more revenue, by using the newly installed equipment to provide a conference facility for up to 80 people. As if that wasn't enough, she has plans for Murder Mystery evenings and musical events too. Hard work indeed, but her bright idea has given the community the centre it deserves.

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