Memory Lab Network

Memory Lab Network

IMLS National Leadership Grant project to bring digital preservation to public libraries

About this project

In spring 2017, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded DC Public Library (DCPL), in partnership with the Public Library Association (PLA), a National Leadership Grant to build Memory Lab digital preservation programs in seven public libraries across the U.S. based on the DCPL Memory Lab model.

Through an application process, seven public libraries have been identified as Memory Lab Network project partners. Two ambassadors from each library will attend a week-long digital preservation bootcamp in Washington, D.C., in April 2018 as the kickoff to spending one year creating personal archiving stations and programs for their communities following the DCPL model. Memory Lab Network partners will receive training, mentoring and financial support to create digitization stations and curricula to build public knowledge and skills around the complex and paralyzing problems of personal digital archiving through their own Memory Lab programs. Since the grant was awarded, Library of Congress National Digital Initiatives joined the project as a training and outreach partner.

On February 1, 2018, we announced selection of the seven partner libraries:


What is the Memory Lab model?

DC Public Library’s Memory Lab was first established in 2015 by a yearlong National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR), resulting in a “do-it-yourself” program consisting of three key components: a digitization lab with equipment for digitizing video and audio and scanning photographs, documents, and slides in a public computing space; digital preservation class curricula and training for the public and a website with equipment and workflow instructions and resources for long-term storage and preservation of analog and digital archival materials. The NDSR project final report and the original project proposal are both available online. The residency was funded by the Institute for Museum and Library services and administered by the Library of Congress.


What is the Memory Lab Network?

The seven project partner libraries and DCPL will form the foundation of the Memory Lab Network, a support network of libraries that can assist, advise and build on each other’s innovations, challenges and growing firsthand expertise. By expanding the number of Memory Lab programs nationally, creating variation among those labs and assessing their successes, challenges, failures and adjustments in a white paper, the Memory Lab Network will create a model that is robust, flexible and adoptable by public libraries across the world. Through publication and centralized project documentation, workflows and program information, the network will lower the barriers for libraries to learn about and consider adding digital preservation tools and programs to their own public services, providing yet more opportunity for iteration, improvement and adoption of Memory Labs.


Who could partner

Public libraries as defined by the Certified Public Library Administrator Program, which includes tribal libraries:
"A public library is an entity that is established under state enabling laws or regulators to serve a community, district or region, and that provides at least the following: 1) an organized collection of printed or other library materials, or a combination thereof; 2) paid staff; 3) an established schedule in which services of the staff are available to the public; 4) the facilities necessary to support such a collection, staff and schedule; and 5) is supported in whole or in part with public funds."

The application to apply for partnership was open from Oct. 15 to Dec. 15, 2017. Libraries were also required to submit a statement of interest and identify project leads who will build the local Memory Lab digitization stations and programs, attend in-person and virtual trainings and contribute to project documentation. We encouraged public libraries of every kind to apply and hope to create a cohort diverse in geography, size and the economic opportunity, age and ethnicity of communities served. You can see what questions we asked in the application in our step-by-step application instructions. 


Email: Project Supervisor Lauren Algee  and Project Director Nicholas Kerelchuk
Phone: 202-727-2274
Follow us on Twitter: @MemLabNet

Advisory Board

Nate Hill – Executive Director, Metropolitan New York Library Council
Jaime Mears – National Digital Initiatives, Library of Congress; former NDSR Resident who built the DCPL Memory Lab
Yvonne Ng – Senior Archivist, WITNESS
Rick Prelinger – Founder of the Prelinger Archives; Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz