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Decentralizing Digitization at Your Local Library

The Digital Studio at Lexington's Northside Branch Library makes it easy to turn old memories into new media.

Update: As of November 2020, the website is live! Please visit

Post Date: August 30, 2019

The Chronicle is being built by the African American community, the same community that has built the horse industry over centuries. Many of the contributors and their stories have been around longer than digital media, so there’s a lot to catch up with. The reality is that we live in a digital age, and without access to a personal computer, scanner, software, and technical know-how, it’s just not easy to share keepsakes and memories.

Do you have a VHS tape of a horse show in 1987? Or maybe a DVD of a race in 1994? Maybe you’ve got old home movies on Super 8 film that show three generations of horse lovers together. Or a cassette tape of your grandmother telling stories and would love to preserve it in a format to share with your own grandchildren. How many dusty photo albums could be given a new life if you just had them digitized?

Scanner bed with old family photograph

Fragile, antique family photographs can be preserved for generations to come by scanning and saving as digital files.

The museum staff is happy to help with one-on-one scanning and digital photography of objects for the Chronicle. However, the staff is small and their time is limited. We want to decrease barriers to sharing the real history and use existing resources in the community. To that end, the museum is partnering with local libraries to make it much easier for contributors to preserve their special memories.

One special library located not far from the museum has a unique public space known as the Digital Studio. While all public libraries in Kentucky are equipped with scanners, Lexington Public Library’s Northside Branch on Russell Cave Road exceeds expectations in providing digitization services. Not only can you scan a photo or document, you can also transfer VHS tapes to digital files, record audio, and learn how to edit video.  

The mission of the Digital Studio is to provide library customers with access to cutting edge video, photo, and graphics editing programs. A wide variety of free computer classes are offered on computers that are fully loaded with editing software. Open lab hours are also available most days of the week. 

A group of African American youth with professional mentors in the digital studio

The Digital Studio provides a space for community-oriented programming, such as this Black Professionals Career Night, where mentors introduce youth to career options.

We anticipate the needs of the Chronicle’s contributors will be fairly simple, but it’s good to know you can take storytelling to another level with multimedia tools. Whether you’re simply turning an old home movie into a web-ready format, or filming your own high-definition documentary film, the Lexington Public Library’s Northside Branch has all the tools to help. Even better, the friendly staff will teach you how to use the scanners, computers, and media transfer machines. All of this is provided at no cost to library members.

By partnering with the Lexington Public Library’s Digital Studio, the museum provides instructions for saving files for the Chronicle and a USB thumb drive to keep your files. When you submit your contribution to the museum, you will be asked to complete Item Info Forms to identify details about each photo, recording, or document and sign a Digitization Agreement that explains how the files will be used. 

To get started, check out the Digital Studio's website for open hours. Call (859) 231-5590 ext. 2407 to make a reservation or to find out more information.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Institute of Museum and Library Services