Convert and preserve family records at Guernsey Memorial Library

Chances are you have several types of important family records in your possession. It boggles the mind to think of the number of photographs, paper certificates, written genealogies, home movies, and audiotapes of family members some of us have in our homes.

Not only are these materials useful in our daily lives, but you can count on future generations being interested in them as well. In 2009, a Harris Interactive survey estimated that 87% of American adults are interested in finding out more about their family history, much of which is owned and archived only in the collections of private individuals.

Experts disagree about the lifespans of the various media on which we store our family information. For example, it is estimated that videotapes may only last from eight to twelve years and manufacturers claim that DVDs may last from thirty to one hundred years. Anyone who has watched an old videotape, handled their grandparents’ love letters, or looked through an old photo album can attest to the fact that none of these media last forever.

One thing you can do to preserve your important family history information for future generations is to digitize the information. Once your documents, photos, and recordings are in digital form, you can use them without handling and further damaging the originals, share them with others more easily, make multiple copies to store in various locations, and convert the files to future file formats, all of which make the information more likely to be available in the future.

In recognition of the fact that more and more people are becoming interested in family history and in preserving their records for posterity, Guernsey Memorial Library is offering a new electronic workstation, called the Preservation Station, where the public can use equipment that can digitize various media formats.

There are two scanners, one for scanning standard paper documents, and another for scanning photographs, negatives, and slides. There is also equipment for converting videotapes and LP and audiocassette recordings. Stop by, or call or e-mail the library at 334-4034 or for more information.

– Connie Dalrymple

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