The Memory Lab

The Memory Lab

The Labs at DC Public Library



The Labs at DC Public Library are located at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, which is currently open for limited-services.
 Learn more here.

Reservations can be made below.

What is the Memory Lab? | Why should I care about personal archiving? 
Our partners | Membership process | Age policy | 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 do-it-yourself (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
  • MiniDV
  • HDV 1080i
  • DV
  • Audio cassette
  • 3.5" Floppy
  • Photos/slides/negatives
  • 8mm / Super 8mm film
  • CDs/DVDs
  • External hard drive
  • USB
  • Cloud Storage

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. 

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 was donated by our friends at the Dance Heritage Coalition.

Our Story

The Memory Lab is the result of a year-long National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) project beginning in June 2015 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 project report here.

In 2017 the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded DCPL, in partnership with the Public Library Association, a National Leadership Grant to build Memory Lab digital preservation programs in seven public libraries across the U.S. Through an application process, seven public libraries will be identified as project partners and will spend one year creating personal archiving stations and programs to for their communities following the DCPL model. Memory Lab Network partners will receive training, mentoring, and financial support to create digitization stations and curriculum to build public knowledge and skills around the complex and paralyzing problems of personal digital archiving through their own Memory Lab programs. More information and link to application here.

Membership Process

  1. Sign the Participant Release Form. Completing a Participant Release Form at the beginning of your first session is required. If you are younger than 18, parental/legal guardian consent is required.
  2. Book an appointment. The Memory Lab opens on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Completing an orientation and Participant Release Form is required at the beginning of your appointment. You must have a library card to book an appointment. 
  3. Arrive to your first session 15 minutes early. Check-in with staff at the Labs information desk (A-level) at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Staff may inspect your digital media to ensure that it does not harm Memory Lab equipment.
  4. Staff will point you to the Memory Lab! Refer to the Memory Lab LibGuide 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.

More Info

Got questions? Contact us at
Learn what's needed to start your own Memory Lab.

Make an Appointment

Back to Labs at DC Public Library