My grandfather died recently and while going through his effects, the family came across a lot of old pictures from his time in the U.S. Navy. We even discovered an image taken from 100 feet into the crater of Mount Vesuvius – taken while he was stationed in Italy during the 1960s.
Amazing! I wanted to see this picture immediately. But like most of his Navy pictures, it was a slide picture instead of a photograph. No one in my family has a slide reader, so I did not have a way to see the image, let alone preserve it for the rest of the family and our descendants.
I thought I would have to buy a slide converter or pay some company to convert the slides. But then I remembered I could convert my out-of-date picture formats and other materials at no cost at the Cumberland County Public Library’s Digital Preservation Lab at the Headquarters Library. And this service is free.
The Digital Preservation Lab is in the Local & State History Room, located on the second floor of the Headquarters Library, which is at 300 Maiden Lane in downtown Fayetteville. Its equipment includes a scanner, a VHS-to-DVD converter, a slide and negative converter, a vinyl record converter and a cassette converter. Aside from photographs, you can scan documents, preserve sound recordings and convert home movies on VHS to DVD.
There is no cost to use the equipment. Along with your original items, the only thing you’ll need is your own storage device, a USB or blank DVD/CD to store the converted material.
It’s a great way to preserve your old records and memories in an up-to-date format that is easily accessible for you and future generations.
Just come down to the Local & State History Room and let the staff assist you in converting and preserving your digital history. The staff will show you how to use the digitization software, and then you’ll be able to preserve your records. The service is free, but you will have to invest time, as some processes may take a while, especially VHS to DVD conversion.
Don’t let those precious photos and documents degrade – preserve them today. For more information about the lab, and the wealth of family-research resources in the Local & State History Room, visit the downtown location, call 910- 483-7727 ext. 1365 or visit cumberlandcountync.gov/library and click on the Local History link.
Joseph Westendorf is the Local & State History Librarian.