We have great news! Forbes Library was awarded the Accelerating Promising Practices for Small and Rural Libraries grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop the Moving Memories Lab, which will allow community members to record and preserve their stories, photos and other memories. This project, with its focus on building and preserving community memory, draws on our ongoing multimedia work in collecting local history and extends our institutional expertise into our community, providing patrons with the access and knowledge to preserve their own materials. We look forward to working with our partner community organizations — Northampton Open Media, Northampton Senior Services, Historic Northampton, and the Center for New Americans — to train their staff and the public on the use of digitization equipment, caring for digital memories and files, and recording oral histories, and invite community members to add their digitized materials to our local history collection. Audio recording equipment will be available to borrow via our Library of Things program, and the grant will allow us to build upon the work already being done by our teen podcasting workshop and Bay State Hotel oral history projects. Our project, informed by the earlier work of the District of Columbia Public Library and Queens Public Library, will make us the only public library using the memory lab model in New England.

In the first year of the grant funding, we will focus on staff training, building technical expertise and institutional capacity for the library and our community partners as we add new digitization equipment to the library’s collection for internal and public use. In the second year of the grant, we will bring our enriched digitization tools and expertise to our community, hosting programming on preserving personal documents, creating oral history recordings, and other topics supported by our newly added equipment.

We look forward to using this grant funding to enable not only the preservation of local history but the creation of new materials that document community histories as they are currently unfolding. “As centers of learning and catalysts of community change, libraries and museums connect people with programs, services, collections, information, and new ideas in the arts, sciences, and humanities. They serve as vital spaces where people can connect with each other,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “IMLS is proud to support their work through our grant making as they inform and inspire all in their communities.” The Moving Memories Lab represents Forbes Library’s commitment to curating a local history collection that reflects the complexity of our community, increasing access and understanding of digitization technology, and collaborating with our partner organizations to strengthen and sustain local history work in the Pioneer Valley.