Creatives Access Studio 304

This Giving Tuesday we’ve decided to focus on the impact some of our resources have been able to make throughout our community. Studio 304 our digital media lab has been the catalyst for many creatives in the area to find community and pick up on new skills.

One of those creatives being Taylor who has been a regular attendee of the Studio’s Creator Meetups and many other Studio 304 programs. She currently works in the field of computer programming, but she came to the Meetups for a chance to build her skills in the area of 3D modeling and animation. Through this past summer she worked on creating abstract characters in bright and colorful settings and eventually discovered ways to create animations using her characters.

Taylor has always been a very encouraging presence at the meetups. When the idea came about to shift the annual summer meetups to a year-round patron-led club, Taylor was the first person that came to mind. 

When the idea was brought to her she gladly accepted. She is now leading Creator Club meetings in Studio 304 on the 3rd Saturday of every month.

Studio 304 Creator Showcase celebrates local artists

By: Marenda Escobar

6:00 – 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, August 30
Main Library, Leighton Auditorium

Studio 304’s Creator Showcase caps off a summer of creativity by celebrating local artists who participated in the Library’s Creator Meet-Ups. Come experience a culmination of creative summer projects, meet the artists, and learn about their processes. 

This summer’s Showcase will feature a wide range of projects spanning from photography and videography, game design, digital illustration, music production, and an interactive art installation. Studio 304 is the St. Joe County Public Library’s digital media lab, where patrons can book recording studios, use advanced editing software, borrow equipment, and learn from library staff and fellow patrons. This is the Library’s second summer of connecting local creatives through its Creator Meet-Ups and Showcase. 

Taylor Wiley, multimedia artist and illustrator, is participating in the Studio 304 Creator Meet-Ups and Showcase for a second summer. Last summer, she learned how to use Blender, and this year, she’s expanding her skills by creating a digital interactive installation. In a short interview, Wiley recalled, “How I find value from going to various events is being able to meet other creative people, being able to bounce ideas off, and finding my people.

The Library’s Creator Showcase and Meet-Ups have been led by the Library’s Digital Lab Associate Librarians Chad Rajski and Jennifer Strombeck. When asked to reflect on the summer program series, Chad responded, “It has been so gratifying seeing our space utilized to bring creative people together. These gatherings have really been everything that we had hoped they would be.”

Come meet this innovative, friendly, creative community and learn how you can become involved by attending this summer’s Creator Showcase on August 30 in Leighton Auditorium.

Creators try a telephone-style drawing challenge on the iPads using Procreate.

Creators show off their work versus Chad’s original.

Creator Meet-Ups have created community among local artists.

Chad and local creatives Ronny and Taylor in conversation.

Notre Dame professor records podcast in Studio 304

By: Marenda Escobar

“People have learned and do learn without grades, so they may not be necessary. So then the question is, are they harmful?” – Dr. Susan Blum on The Higher Ed Spotlight Podcast

Dr. Susan Blum is a professor of Anthropology at Notre Dame who has, in the last 15-20 years, shifted her research to focus on education, higher education, and a movement called ungrading. She describes ungrading as a practice that shifts the focus from grading, evaluation, and metrics, to learning. Blum edited Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (and What to Do Instead), which covers the experiences of fifteen educators who practice this new pedagogy. She believes the movement has taken off partly due to the book Ungrading, and the pandemic, which caused people to reevaluate whether conventional pedagogical practices help or hurt learning.

Blum’s work has led her to record several podcasts. When asked to record an episode for The Higher Ed Spotlight in April, Blum was in search of a studio that would provide high production value. Blum’s friend suggested checking out Studio 304 at the St. Joe County Public Library. Once she reached out, staff promptly helped her reserve a studio full of state-of-the-art equipment for free. Blum is a big advocate for public libraries, and calls the St. Joe County Public Library one of her favorite places. Reflecting on Main Library’s renovation, Blum recalls, “the new library is really magnificent. When I came to the opening, I was so excited, but I had no idea that there was also all of this really great stuff.”

Learn more:

Local musicians use Studio 304 to produce music

By: Marenda Escobar

Meet Andre Bolling and Anthony Adams, two cousins with a passion for music. Both artists use Studio 304 at Main Library to produce their own music and engage with their passions.

Andre “Mega Jam”

Andre Bolling “Mega Jam” is a hip hop and house music artist. Andre treats his music like he does his cooking, aspiring to make each song unique and different. He uses Logic Pro software in Studio 304 to create music and further his career, which he describes as having the benefits of a professional studio. When Andre started his music journey he had a goal to complete 50 songs, a goal he is proud to have accomplished.

Andre’s advice to aspiring musicians is to “have patience and keep going. You might not be an artist over night. You have to keep working at it.” Listen to Andre’s music on SoundCloud. The song he plays is called Cosmic Harmony, which he created with Logic Pro in Studio 304.

Anthony “Young AmA”

For Anthony Adams “Young AmA,” music is his love and life. His own music is upbeat, sometimes sad, but always inspiring. Anthony recalls growing up in South Bend was hard but music served as an inspiration.

Redemption, Anthony’s latest mixtape, tells his story. If he can come out of dark places and overcome, he believes others will be inspired. Today, Anthony seeks to bring positive change to his home city with his music and story.

Anthony started using Studio 304 five years ago. Since the Library’s renovation, he’s been inspired by the updated equipment available to patrons for free. He recalls the many resources available for recording, mixtaping, designing album covers, and says, “You can do the whole nine yards here at the Library.” Check out Young AmA’s music on Youtube. The song Anthony sings in the studio is called Mind.

Growing up at the Library

“This is my library baby!” patron Ruby Brower proudly proclaimed as she lovingly introduced me to her grandson, Tyrin. She went on to explain that she moved to South Bend for a job which fell through, and then found herself in a predicament which left her homeless. It was at that critical time in her life she discovered the library, and the resources proved to be just what she needed. 

Over the years many library staff members have played a role in Ruby’s life. The literacy services proved to be a wonderful aide as she was homeschooling her daughter, Kimmy. Brower remembers one staff member in particular, Shannon Belcher. She “just took Kimmy up under her wings, and they began to talk about things that she didn’t even talk with me about. She felt comfortable with Shannon. If she needed some information, she went to Shannon who would help her look it up. It was amazing, they had this amazing relationship,” Brower described.

While her daughter was busy with school work, Brower was able to start her own business and run it using tools in the computer lab at Main Library. She also made use of the services–and the knowledgeable staff–at Studio 304. “Matt Wynn was working there when I first started using it,” she recalls. “One of the things he always used to say to me was, ‘No Ruby I’ll teach you how to do it, so that when I’m not around you’ll be able to do it yourself.’” Using Studio 304, Brower wrote books, designed book covers, and created videos and other marketing materials for her business.

With all the time Kimmy spent at the library, she met another library patron, named Chris. Soon, they  started doing their school work together and completed their high school education. As time progressed they fell in love, decided to get married, and along came their “library baby,” Tyrin. Kimmy, Chris and Tyrin all moved out of state, but every time they come to visit Ruby they stop by the library too!

“When I say South Bend” and more 574 Stories

“When I say South Bend, I mean my South Bend,” says Lily Francis, a sophomore and young poet. Lily Francis is one of twelve local high school students who were invited to participate in 574 Stories, a five-day intensive creative writing workshop led by the South Bend Community School Corporation at Studio 304 at Main Library. 

574 Stories aimed to empower young writers and share “diverse voices and perspectives.” Participating students studied literature, took field trips to several South Bend landmarks, including Studio 304 at Main Library, and wrote stories about their homes, families, and life in South Bend (South Bend Community School Corporation). Stories from the twelve students were published in an anthology titled, 574 Stories, and students shared their stories at a special reading and celebration at the Brown Community Learning Center in September.

Lily Francis, young poet and author of a few 574 Stories including “When I Say South Bend” shared her powerful story with us on social media. Lily Francis reads,

“When I say South Bend
I mean my South Bend
I mean the Public Schools Unite sign on that front yard
Pride flags and Black Lives Matter
I mean the Mulberry trees that birthe fruit for the summer
I mean the Morning Man on West Washington

When I say South Bend
I mean the geese
And I mean all of them
I mean the Taquería lady on Western Avenue
And the kids down the street screaming across the front lawn in swim trunks
And the white lady in early spring
Looking to see if the seeds she planted
Have grown since then”

These unique perspectives on life in South Bend and several other 574 Stories are available at each of the Library’s branches in South Bend.


  • Garvey, Monica. “High School Students Take Part in New ‘574 Stories’ Project.” HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TAKE PART IN NEW “574 STORIES” PROJECT, June 22, 2022.
  • “SBCSC High School Students Launch ‘574 Stories’ Anthology with Public Reading and Reception,” September 23, 2022. South Bend Community School Corporation. 

Want to be in the know with the latest library news?