The Memory Lab

The Memory Lab

The Labs at DC Public Library



The Memory Lab is currently closed, pending a move to the Northeast Neighborhood Library. Please check The Road to MLK Future for updates on the Martin Luther King Jr. Library modernization and interim services.

What is the Memory Lab? | Why should I care about personal archiving? 
Our partners | Membership process | Age policy | Release form | More info


What is the Memory Lab?

It's a place.
The lab provides equipment for digitizing home movies and scanning photographs and slides. It's a DIY model, meaning we provide step-by-step instructions, but you control the process from start to finish. 

The lab can be reserved for three-hour sessions.
Formats Accepted Formats Saved On
(Customer Provided)
  • VHS
  • VHS-C
  • DV
  • MiniDV
  • Audio cassette
  • 3.5" Floppy
  • Photos/slides/negatives
  • External hard drive
  • USB
  • Cloud Storage
  • CD
  • DVD

It's an online resource.

Learn how to take care of your physical and digital possessions and get resources to help you in your personal archiving projects. 

It's a series of classes and programs.
Check out the Library's online calendar for upcoming events throughout the system!

Why should I care about personal archiving?

Daily organization. Personal collections are larger than ever, spanning physical things like keepsakes and journals, to digital things like Word documents, photographs, email, and social media accounts. Taking steps to care for your stuff will help you locate, reference, and re-use what you create.

Security. Losing track of your assets and online accounts is a threat to your online identity and personal security. This means that sometimes even deleting is a valuable personal archiving strategy.

Legacy. What you produce purposefully (like a home movie or photograph) and what you produce in daily life (like a calendar appointment or email) could be important for your loved ones and for the cultural record. 

In the Media

One World One Family

    Our Partners

    The Library of Congress in conjunction with the Institute of Museum and Library Services selected our project for their National Digital Stewardship Residency program. Some of the equipment in the lab is on loan from our friends at the 
    Dance Heritage Coalition.

    Our Story

    The Memory Lab is the result of a National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) project to create sustainable, public-focused lab, tools, and instruction for building public knowledge and skills around personal digital record keeping at DC Public Library (DCPL) and to produce a model for other organizations serving the public.

    Check out the final report here.

    Membership Process

    1. Sign the release form. If you are younger than 18, parental consent is required.
    2. Book a 3-hour session. Orientations are not required to use the space, but attending a Memory Lab Drop-in session is strongly encouraged. Upcoming drop-ins can be found in the Library's online calendar. You can also sign up belowYou must have a library card to book a session. 
    3. Arrive to your first session 15 minutes early. Check-in with staff at the information desk in the Digital Commons. They may inspect what you've brought in to digitize  to make sure that it won't harm our equipment. 
    4. Once staff have shown you to the space it's all yours! Refer to the Memory Lab wiki for step-by-step instructions.

    Age Policy

    The Memory Lab is designated for use by people ages 13 and older.

    Children ages 6-12 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at all times.

    Parental consent is required for ages 17 and younger.

    Release Form

    You can download and sign your Release Form before coming to your session, or fill one out at the information desk.
    Download as Word Document | PDF

    More Info

    Got questions? Contact us at 
    Lean what's needed to start your own Memory Lab.
    Learn more about the project on our resident's blog.

    Back to Labs at DC Public Library