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Memory XFR offers a chance to learn about digitizing family memories captured on tape, slides or video

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Librarian sitting in front of a computer with onlookers.
DCPL Librarian Russell Martin explains how to use the Epson Expression 11000XL Photo Scanner at a Memory Lab drop-in session. Photo by Siobhan Hagan.

This is a guest blog post by Julia Kim, Digital Assets Specialist at the American Folklife Center.

Do you have precious VHS tapes of special family events that you want preserved in the digital age? Are you perplexed about what it takes to digitize your organization’s recordings? If so, you are invited to Memory XFR, a one-day event at the Northeast Branch of the District of Columbia Public Library, 330 7th St NE, Washington, DC, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, August 24, where audiovisual archivists and librarians will be on hand to help you with all of your digitization questions and needs!

As a partnership among the American Folklife Center (Library of Congress) and the DC Public Library, Memory XFR organizers, Julia Kim (Digital Assets Specialist, American Folklife Center), Siobhan Hagan (Project Manager, Memory Lab, DCPL), and Michelle Stefano (Folklife Specialist, American Folklife Center), will help familiarize local organizations and individuals in the digitization of archival analog formats such as VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS, MiniDV, DVCAM, audio compact cassettes, slides, negatives, and photos.

Picture of a computer station with the words "Memory Lab: Do-it-yourself Digitization" on the wall.
Photo of the Northeast Neighborhood Library Memory Lab in use. Photo by Siobhan Hagan.

While DCPL’s Memory Lab allows for you to independently sign up for slots to use its equipment other days of the week, this is an opportunity to work alongside trained audiovisual archivists, learning the ins and outs of digitizing analog formats through hands-on guidance and live feedback. There will be a limited number of time slots available to use the digitization stations. Please contact Siobhan Hagan ([email protected]) for further details and to specify your analog formats and the time slot that would work best for you.

Due to the limited number of individualized time slots for using the digitization stations, participants can also attend several short introductory digital preservation and oral history classes, starting at 3pm, as well as ask an “Audiovisual Archivist” from 12:30 -1:30pm (lunch will not be provided). We will explore topics like metadata, “good enough” practices, visual and aural indications of issues, risks assessments of media and file types, and much more.

A scan of Siobhan Hagan’s photograph using DCPL’s Epson Expression 11000XL-PH Photo Scanner in the Memory Lab at the District of Columbia Public Library.
Black-and-white photograph of boy in sweater, and 1928 is printed underneath of the photograph.
An original photograph of Memory Lab Project Manager Siobhan Hagan’s grandfather, Anthony Cernugelj.

In the spirit of DIY (Do-It-Yourself), Memory XFR (pronounced “transfer”) represents a blend of active hands-on guided work and workshops on how to preserve your personal memories and local histories. A word of caution: do be prepared for the unexpected! Old and obsolete equipment is not 100 percent reliable even after testing, and older equipment may also be slower.

For the latest information, updates, or to see what’s happening, follow us on twitter:@memlabnet #XFRDC #MemoryXFR  #americanfolklifecenter

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