November is Family Stories Month
November is Family Stories Month, a time to gather with family and friends and connect through the power of storytelling. Whether they’re heartbreaking, hilarious, terrifying, or triumphant, stories can unite us and help us understand one another. They can also bridge the gap between generations and teach us about who we are and where we come from. This month—or any month—celebrate and preserve the story of you and your loved ones with recording and digitizing resources available at the library. Read on to learn more!
With an HCPL library card, you can access Digital Media Labs at each of our five area locations. Labs offer equipment, software, and space to assist library users with digital media and recording projects:
Use audio recording equipment and editing software to record oral histories and interviews with loved ones. Reserve the Digital Media Lab or a Study Room to borrow a microphone, headphones, and sound shield for in-library use. You can bring your own laptop with audio editing software, or use Audacity on one of our computers.
One Button Recording Studio
In addition to podcasting equipment, the library has a One Button Recording Studio at our Fairfield location. Intended for projects that require less editing, the studio allows you to skip the equipment and start recording with the touch of a button. The space is ideal for those seeking to capture conversations in audio and/or video format.
If you’ve been deemed the family historian and are looking for ways to preserve your family’s memories, use the library’s high-resolution scanner to digitize your archive of images. The scanner can be used for photographs, slides, 35mm, and medium format film. Create digital files that can be retouched and edited in software, such as Adobe Photoshop, sent to a printer, or easily shared with loved ones via email or social media.
Not sure what’s on those old VHS tapes? Use the library’s VHS transfer station to view your tapes and convert select footage to digital files. Please note that footage transfers in real time. For example, 30 minutes of footage will take 30 minutes to convert. We suggest bringing something else to work on, or of course, reading a book!
Camera + Green Screen
For projects where high-resolution images, video, special effects, or further editing may be required, the library has a DSLR camera, tripod, shotgun microphone, green screen, light stands, and Adobe Creative Cloud software available for in-library use.
If you have any questions about your project, using library equipment, or reserving a room, please contact your closest area library to speak with Digital Media Lab staff.
In addition to Digital Media Lab equipment, library users can also explore genealogy databases like Ancestry for Virginians and Heritage Quest to browse historic documents and discover more information about your family’s story.
Attend an upcoming program to learn more about podcasting, storytelling, and how to use the library’s recording and digitization equipment:
- Podcasting Workshops for High School Students and Adults
- Wednesday, December 6, 6:30-8:30PM at Fairfield
- Learn the basics of audio recording and editing with Audacity. We will discuss podcasts as a format and an industry.
- Interviewing Basics for Grades K-5 with an Adult
- Thursday, January 4, 2-4PM at Libbie Mill
- In this intergenerational program, develop the interviewing skills you’ll need to create your own podcast or oral history. Participants will use the free StoryCorps app to create interview questions and then record a conversation with a friend or family member.
- Digitize Your Photos and Home Movies
- Wednesday, December 13, 2-3:30PM at Tuckahoe
- Monday, January 8, 2-3:30PM at Tuckahoe
- Preserve your photos and old home movies by digitizing them in the Library's Digital Media Lab. We'll provide instruction on using the photo scanner and VHS cassette converter. Participants are encouraged to bring photos and VHS cassettes for practice.
For additional resources about the art of storytelling and how to preserve and tell your family’s history, browse our collection!
- The Art of Storytelling: Telling Truths Through Telling Stories by Amy Spaulding
- The Essential Questions: Interview Your Family to Uncover Stories and Bridge Generations by Elizabeth Lillian Keating
- How to Archive Family Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize and Share Your Photos Digitally by Denise S. May-Levenick
- How to Tell a Story: The Essential Guide to Memorable Storytelling from The Moth by Meg Bowles
- Photo Restoration: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Robert Correll
- Make Noise: A Creator’s Guide to Podcasting and Great Audio Storytelling by Eric Nuzum
- So You Want to Start a Podcast: Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Story, and Building a Community That Will Listen by Kristen Meinzer
- Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps by David Isay
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