Next Chapter: Preserving The Past For The Future

In a nostalgic, contemplative mood Dianne was reminiscing about her parents lives and the wonderful, happy childhood they had provided for she and her siblings while growing up in Winter Park. The occasion of her musings was the anniversary of her parents passing and though gone for many years, Dianne missed the close bond she had had with both parents, her mother for her passion for learning and wisdom, and her father for his picture taking and sometimes incredulous but always entertaining family stories.  Laughing to herself, Dianne recalled the many, many times she and her family looked at one another out of view of their father’s gaze and gestured to one another the story just told couldn’t possibly be true.

She was the only sibling still in Winter Park, and as such had reservedly taken possession of all the slides, pictures and movies her father had taken throughout their lives, hastily packed in bulging and now deformed boxes, barely held together by opaque, brittle tape, sitting in her attic at the mercy of the unforgiving Florida climate and of time. Although she and her siblings had always talked about preserving the family “treasures” as they liked to jokingly refer to them and verifying the veracity of their father’s many stories about their genealogy, there was an unspoken family understanding that nobody except Dianne would take on these projects. Never coy about new challenges Dianne knew where she would go to develop her options.

A life lesson learned early on, Dianne knew full well the value of utilizing the many resources of the Winter Park Public Library and its staff and even though the internet was just a click away, going to the library was always more enriching and fulfilling than just sitting in front of a computer screen at home. And now that the new Winter Park Public Library was up and running, with its wonderful architecture and greatly expanded capabilities, the Memory Lab was of particular interest to her. Not only did the new lab have an environmentally controlled archival storage unit to preserve important historical documents, it also contained a more powerful and robust scanner, a larger lightboard to view and screen slides and negatives, updated and expanded photoshop capabilities, and a new bank of dedicated computers for patrons to use.  The old library had similar capabilities but on a much smaller scale, plus everything now was in one location. Utilizing the resources of the modernized Memory Lab Dianne was now halfway through digitizing her many boxes of family pictures and slides and was able to access and fashion her library file at home via the online account she had set up in the lab.

The Winter Park Public Library Archivist, with a master’s degree in Library Science, and further specialization in archives and museum research, was a wealth of information and had been wonderfully helpful to Dianne as she slowly whittled away at researching her family genealogy and trying to connect the congruity of her family tree with her father’s stories.  On her personal computer Dianne had the basic version of Ancestry.com but had experienced early on its limitations. During a series of appointments with the library archivist, Dianne had learned the library’s version, Ancestry.com Library Edition, enabled her to greatly broaden the scope of her search beyond the borders of the United States and into continental Europe, something the basic version couldn’t do. The erudite research advice, tips and wording suggestions shared with Dianne allowed her to make great progress, and to expedite what could sometimes be a rather laborious, frustrating process.

Through it all the biggest revelation that subtly unfurled in her mind was the forgotten connection with her parents, that bond she thought dulled by time and forever displaced. Her endeavors of digitizing her family photos and researching her lineage in the new Memory Lab were surprisingly satisfying and fulfilling, and she realized “most” of the crazy stories her father had shared over the years about her relatives weren’t so farfetched after all.