Memory Lab

Use equipment to digitize and edit your own personal media such as home movies, images, and audio cassette tapes.

What is it?

The Memory Lab is a new 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 is funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee.

Where is it?

The Memory Lab is located on the second floor of Lawson McGhee Library in downtown Knoxville.

What are the hours?

Lab hours and available days are subject to change each month, but typically it will be available for reservations 10:30–1:30 and 2:00–5:00 Monday through Friday. Sessions last for up to 3 hours and may be extended during lab hours if no one is waiting.

Who can use it?

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.

What do I need?

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.

How long will it take?

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.

What can I transfer?

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
  • Hi8 videotape
  • MiniDV videotape
  • Audio cassette tape
  • Photographs and documents up to 8.5” x 11.7”
  • 35mm slide film
  • 35mm negative film
  • Medium format film, up to 6 x 20cm
  • 4” x 5” film
  • 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.

What Hardware is available?

  • 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
  • Sony Video Cassette Recorder SLV-N50
  • Sony Handycam Digital Video Camera Recorder DCR-HC30/HC40
  • Video Tape Cleaner/Rewinder
  • 2 Sony Professional Headphones MDR-7506
  • Sony Handycam Hi8 Video Camera Recorder CCD-TRV65
  • Panasonic DMR-EZ48V DVD/VHS Recorder
  • Panasonic AG-7300 SVHS Player/Recorder
  • Nakamichi CR-1A Cassette Deck

What Software is available?

  • Blackmagic Media Express
  • Final Cut Pro X
  • Epson Scan
  • Handbrake
  • Gimp Image Editor
  • Audacity
  • QuickTime Player
  • iMovie

How do I get started?

Read the policy and submit the reservation application.

How do I find out more?

Contact the Sights & Sounds Department at sightsandsounds@knoxlib.org or (865) 215-8714.