Public invited to preserve personal histories in the Memory Lab

Published 8:21 pm Friday, May 24, 2019



The library has always been a place to make memories — now it can also help to save memories. After many delays, trials and technical tribulations, the Boyle County Public Library is excited to announce that the Memory Lab will open to the public starting June 3. 

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The Memory Lab is a grant-funded program that enables people to digitize and preserve their histories. In today’s digital world, unless the public is equipped to sustain their digital memories, communities risk massive loss of vernacular history and culture. Public libraries are trusted providers of digital literacy and local history programs, and therefore are well positioned to offer open access to the digital tools and skills necessary for communities to document and preserve their own histories.

In April 2017, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded DC Public Libraries, and the Public Library Association a National Leadership Grant to fund and support Memory Lab digital preservation programs in seven public libraries across the United States based on the DCPL Memory Lab model.

In February of 2018, the library was one of seven chosen to participate in the Memory Lab Network. As part of the grant received, the Boyle County Public Library has been offering classes such as “What’s Your Digital Afterlife” and “Think Like an Archivist” to aid the community in preserving its history, whether it be physical objects or digital files.

The library’s Memory Lab is made up of equipment and information for conversion of analog formats to digital.  It is a DIY model, meaning step-by-step instructions are provided, but the user controls the process from start to finish.  Patrons bring their materials — whether that be photographs, VHS or cassette tapes, etc. — and a storage device, and the library provides the equipment and instructions on how to convert the older material to a digital format.

The lab can currently support the following formats:  VHS, cassette tapes, photographs, negatives and slides, with plans to add other formats such as floppy disk readers and vinyl records. Community members wanting to use the lab will need to take a 30-minute training session to learn how to use the different equipment.

After successfully completing the training, they will then be able to reserve time in the lab. Use of the Memory Lab is free.

Converting a VHS or cassette tape to a digital format happens in real time. That means a two hour tape will require two hours of time for conversion. To help patrons make the most of their time in the lab, the library is also offering VCRs and slide projectors, available for check out, so that patrons can review their materials at home and decide what merits transfer before heading into the Lab.

Mary Girard is assistant reference librarian for the Boyle County Public Library.


The public can learn more about the Memory Lab and how it works at the open house 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 2 in the computer lab at the library. Those who are unable to attend the open house can also contact Mary Girard at or (859) 238-7323.