Information was added to include the names of consultants and designers.

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The Studio: Library turns up the music with new production space


WATCH: You can find all the Music Wednesday performances here.


A year ago, OneBeat co-founder Jeremy Thal brought a group of international musicians to Chattanooga as part of the New York-based music organization's monthlong series of workshops and performances.

One of the reasons Chattanooga was chosen as a stop was because of the Chattanooga Public Library and the low-latency (LoLa) technology it is helping to pioneer. LoLa lets people in different parts of the world communicate live with very little lag, or latency. Each party hears the other almost instantly. OneBeat performers used the equipment to collaborate live with the New World Symphony in Miami.

"I think it's the coolest library in the country," Thal said at the time. Imagine what he'd say today, now that The Studio at the Chattanooga Public Library is up and running.

Thanks to grants of $75,000 from Benwood Foundation and $90,000 from Lyndhust Foundation, the library has a professional-quality 24-track studio that is available to library patrons, primarily for learning and teaching purposes.

While musicians will eventually be able to use the facility to record a track or a fairly simple song or podcast, it is not intended to be used in place of a professional working studio, according to Meredith Levine, head of youth services and the studio manager at the library.

"We are not looking to put anyone out of business," she said.

The primary objective is to use it to introduce the professional world of music to young people by teaching them how to engineer and produce music.

"It's about giving kids a place for creativity," said library Director Corinne Hill. "It's an opportunity to see that there is more to music than getting up onstage and singing."

Music Wednesdays moves to The Studio

Beginning this week, the Music Wednesdays episodes featuring local and regional musicians performing on Facebook Live will primarily be produced inside The Studio at the Chattanooga Public Library.

The episodes, hosted by Lesley Dale and Barry Courter, have been recorded at the Times Free Press in the past and, on occasion, on location around the area. You can watch past episodes at Past performers have included Shane Morrow with Jazzanooga, cast members from “Madame Butterfly,” singer/songwriter Nathan Bell, Grammy-nominated blues guitarists Kenny Neal and the UTC choir under the direction of Roland Carter.

The upcoming show on Wednesday will include an introduction to The Studio, with help from Meredith Levine, head of youth services at the library; Kessler Cuffman, founder of Dynamo Studios; local musicians Johnny Smith, Amber Carrington and Dran Lewis; and Chattanooga Girls Rock camp participants.

Ten campers signed up to learn about music engineering and production, and they will spend time this week in The Studio, including during the live presentation.

Music Wednesdays takes place at noon each week at Special episodes can happen at other times throughout the week if a special guest or event becomes available. Artists performing during this past Riverbend, for example, were showcased on a daily basis as part of special Music Wednesdays episodes.

Since coming to the library in 2013, Hill has sought to offer more than just books, or what some might consider traditional library tools. There is now a sewing lab at the library as well as a 3-D printer and vinyl-cutting machine, for example.

"Kids love to make stuff, and we don't talk about the learning aspect. We don't tell them they are learning, though they are. It is a safe place to do it, and they get to work through all kinds of things," she said.

"What I really want is to create a new nostalgia for libraries for this generation."

The library is partnering with Dynamo Studios, a local 501(c)3 with a similar mission of teaching young people, to be the primary programming facilitator.

Dynamo staff will lead 20 hours of programming each week in The Studio.

Located on the second floor of the downtown library on Broad Street, in what used to be a classroom and closet spaces, The studio is just under 1,000 square feet. It includes a vocal booth, drum booth, a live booth for guitars, bass, keyboards, etc., and a main control room with two computer monitors and speaker monitors.

All of the work was done by library staff and, where possible, things like doors and windows were repurposed to save money. 

James Matchack was the studio consultant and designer. Phil Benjamin worked with the library on media integration, while Kevin Mitchell did the wiring and patchbay integrations. Michael Miller installed the acoustics.

Since going live on July 1, The Studio has hosted several classes of five students, each focused on digital recording and beat making. Levine said they have been very popular.

"It's been going great. We've actually doubled the capacity for a couple of classes, and the kids are knocking on the door the next day. We've also had several musicians and people in general showing up out of curiosity."

Among the students have been "a couple of new faces that we haven't seen at any of our other programs," Levine said. "That's very exciting."

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.