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Completing a Labs Participant Release Form (bring library card and valid photo ID) and a short orientation upon your first visit is required before using the Memory Lab.

Schedule a Memory Lab Session

Schedule a 3-hour DIY Memory Lab Transfer Session.

If this is your first appointment, we recommend you review transfer/scanning instructions for your format on our Libguide:

Audio and video transfers happen in real time. To save your files, please bring a Mac-compatible external hard drive (USB-A connection), flash drive, or SD card (if you are transferring 8mm/Super8 Film) with you. Video8/Hi8/Digital8 is currently not available.

Other Labs Programs

Attend a Labs program.

If this is your first time at the Labs, you'll need to complete a Labs Participant Release Form (bring library card and valid photo ID), review our safety guidelines, please arrive 10-15 mins earlier than the start of the program to complete and review these documents.

If appointments are not available, the event is full or not yet open for registration. The schedule only shows the next 30 days

What is the Memory Lab?

It's a place dedicated to personal archiving.

The lab provides equipment for personal archiving of documents, home movies and photographs. It's a do-it-yourself (DIY)  model, meaning we provide step-by-step instructions, but you control the process from start to finish. 

Reserve the lab for a three-hour session.

Formats Accepted

  • 3.5" Floppy
  • 8mm / Super 8mm film
  • Photos/slides/negatives
  • Audio cassette
  • CDs/DVDs
  • DV
  • DVCAM
  • HDV 1080i
  • MiniDV
  • VHS
  • VHS-C

Conversions may be saved to library customer's cloud storage, external hard drive or USB.

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.

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 were 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.