Audio/Visual Resources at Bobst's Avery Fisher Center

By Nicolas Lebrun | October 17, 2019

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Beginning in 2014, the Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media (AFC) began a phased move from the second floor of Bobst Library to the seventh floor as part of an ongoing floor-by-floor renovation project. The move, which was completed in the spring of 2017, provided the AFC an opportunity to redesign their space and create a state-of-the-art environment where students and academics can get the most out of their collection of 50 000 films and 130 000 audio recordings.

“We’re trying to move with the times and make ourselves a destination that’s offering something unique,” explains Kent Underwood, the Head of the AFC and a music reference librarian. “At the top of the list was enclosed sound-proof rooms with high-quality video and audio playback equipment.”

The six Collaborative Media Rooms housed on the seventh floor offer library-goers not only the chance to experience the AFC collection with high-quality monitors and speakers but also the resources to collaborate on projects with colleagues. In this spirit, basic audio and video editing programs are installed on the monitors, and the rooms are furnished with a whiteboard, tables, and chairs.

Welcome to the Avery Fisher Center.

Welcome to the Avery Fisher Center.

The centerpiece of the redesign is the Feldstein Immersion Room, which can accommodate up to 35 people and includes Blu-ray/DVD players and VCRs, a 10.2 surround sound system, a Mac Mini, and a 48-track sound mixing board. These features make the Immersion Room an ideal space for music production and occasional live performances. In fact, in June 2019, the International Computer Music Association hosted a number of installations from their 2019 conference in this space.

Although the Feldstein Immersion Room is only available to faculty and staff, students are able to access the Collaborative Media spaces. These rooms are available in three-hour blocks and are typically secured at least 24 hours in advance. Walk-ins are occasionally an option depending on availability, but if you’re just looking for a quiet place to watch something from the collection, there’s a bank of viewing carrels that can read most audio and video formats. There is also, of course, the option of streaming content.

Feldstein Immersion Room

Feldstein Immersion Room. Photo by Sarah Mechling.

“We’re trying to meet people where they are as much as we can,” explains Underwood. For this reason, the Avery Fisher Center, along with Bobst as a whole, has become active in the delivery of online content through third-party streaming services such as Kanopy, which hosts thousands of feature films and documentaries that students can access for free, instantaneously.

That isn’t to say that these services have supplanted places like the Avery Fisher Center. “Libraries going back centuries have had a certain role as a place to put stuff and keep it around for future generations,” Underwood remarked. With these new viewing and listening spaces, it’s never been a better time to go check some of this stuff out in person.