Use equipment to digitize and edit your own personal media such as home movies, images, and audio cassette tapes.
The Memory Lab is a service offered by Knox County Public Library. It's meant to help preserve and share media that is in danger of physical deterioration and technical obsolescence as the equipment required to use it becomes harder to find.
Library patrons can use memory lab equipment to digitize, edit, and store personal media such as home movies on videotape; images including photographic prints, slides, and negatives; and audio cassette tapes. We provide the equipment and basic help, and then it’s up to you to transfer your media.
This project was initiated with help from a grant contract with the State of Tennessee.
Lab hours and available days are subject to change on short notice, but typically it will be available for reservations from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. Sessions are typically booked for 3 hours and may be extended during lab hours if no one is waiting.
Users must be at least 14 and have a library card that is not barred. Younger users must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
You will need basic computer skills, such as knowing how to open programs and how to save a file. Our computers are Macs so they will be a bit different from Windows machines. You will also need to bring a method to save your files. We recommend a high capacity (32GB or more) USB 3.0 flash drive or external hard drive. Devices can be connected via USB-A or USB-C. An online cloud storage account may also be okay if you have plenty of space available.
Digitization of video and audio takes place in real time. The resulting files can be quite large so you will probably want to convert them to a smaller size. We recommend digitizing no more than 2 hours of video at a time and allowing for an additional hour for file conversion.
Scanning speeds depend on the resolution you specify for your scan. Our scanner can make very large files from slides and negatives if you need the size, but it can be quite slow, up to a few minutes per image.
You can transfer the following formats that you own and that contain your personal content. Copyrighted materials such as commercial films on VHS cannot be copied.
- VHS videotape
- VHS-C videotape
- MiniDV videotape
- Audio cassette tape
- Photographs and documents up to 8.5” x 11.7”
- 35mm slide/negative film
- Other transparencies or film, up to 8" x 10"
- Files from SD memory cards
We don’t have the ability to digitize 8mm or 16mm film movies, but you can contact the Tennessee Archive of Moving Images and Sound (TAMIS) for information about what they can digitize.
Media should be in good condition and will be inspected by staff prior to use in the lab. Media with evidence of mold is not permitted since the mold will contaminate equipment.
- 2 iMac Workstations: Retina 27” monitors, 3.8 Ghz Intel Core i5, 32 GB Ram, 2 TB HD
- SD card reader available on each iMac
- 2 Blackmagic Design UltraStudio HD Mini digitizers
- 2 Epson Perfection V850 Pro Scanners
- VHS VCRs at each workstation
- MiniDV camcorder/player
- Video Tape Cleaner/Rewinder
- Headphones for each workstation
- Hi8/Video8 camcorder/player
- Audiocassette Deck
Available hardware can change on short notice and reservations may need to be modified depending on the status of available equipment.
- Blackmagic Media Express: Software used for capturing video to the computer
- Final Cut Pro X: Apple's high end editing software for video
- Epson Scan: Scanner software with options for very high quality scans
- Handbrake: An open source video compression and conversion tool
- Gimp Image Editor: An open source image editor
- Audacity: An open source audio capture tool
- QuickTime Player: Apple tool for video playback and simple editing
- iMovie: Apples consumer video editing software