For Posterity’s Sake
Library stations help preserve family memories
(pictured above: Billy King at the digitalization station at the Central Library.)
The Forsyth County Public Library is helping families preserve their most precious memories.
“Digitization stations” have been setup at several branches, allowing residents to transfer photographs, VHS videos, cassette tapes and slides into Digital Age-friendly formats.
“It’s excellent for the patrons of this library and for the community because it gives them the opportunity to use a resource that will help preserve some of their family history, some important documents, some significant documents they have and learn about the whole process of preserving,” said Yolanda Bolden, the manager of the Malloy/Jordan East Winston Heritage Center, whose digitization station is used 10 to 12 times each week.
The free resource not only provides families with a more carefree way to access their material, but offers a chance to save family memories in our ever-evolving digital world. Photos and old papers can age and deteriorate and slide projectors and VCRs are rarities.
In addition to scanning and converting wedding programs and family photos into digital files, Bolden said she’s seen job-seekers use the station to digitalize their resumes and a DJ utilize the equipment to transfer his cassettes to CDs.
The digitization stations were purchased in 2010 by Library, in partnership with Wake Forest University, with a federal grant administered by the State Library of North Carolina. The stations, which are also at the Central, Walkertown and Lewisville libraries, include a large flat bed scanner and a slide scanner. Once scanned, images may be saved in a variety of digital formats, including jpegs and tiffs, and then burned to a CD, saved to a USB thumb drive or emailed. The stations also feature equipment that play and record all or parts of cassette and VHS tapes, allowing them to be burned onto CDs or DVDs. The two machines record as the cassette or video is playing, so a two hour video will take two hours to record. The machines are for personal materials only; recording copyrighted material like television shows or movies is forbidden.
The branches have different time limits for station use. At Malloy/Jordan, patrons can sign in to use the station for an hour, with more time allotted if others are not waiting. The Central Library requires users to have a library card and be issued a pin number to use the station for a maximum of two hours. The Central Library has recordable CDs available for purchase; most other branches require patrons to bring their own CDs, DVDs or thumb drives.
Visitors use the stations themselves. Librarians are available to give a brief tutorial. The Lewisville Library offers 45 minute instructional classes and allows visitors to reserve time to use the station online. Lewisville Branch Manager Merrikay Brown said the Lewisville Historical Society and other patrons are putting the station to good use, but she’s hoping more will take advantage of it.
“If you’re a historical society that has a lot of things that you want to archive, if you have family photographs and VHS video and maybe audio, it’s a real good thing where you can put the time in, but you can do it for free,” she said.
The Central Branch’s station is in the North Carolina Room, an area devoted to local and state history. The room, which stores microfilmed periodicals and city directories that date back a century, is popular among professional and amateur genealogists searching their families’ histories. The digitalization station is right at home in the North Carolina Room, according to supervisor Billy King, as it gives people a chance to preserve and share their own history.
For more information, call the Central Library at 336-703-3070, Malloy/Jordan at 336-703-2950, Lewisville at 336-703-2940 or Walkertown at 336-703-2990.