Memory Lab Network: An interview with Project Manager Lorena Ramirez-Lopez

Applications are being accepted until December 15th to participate in the Memory Lab Network, an Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant facilitated by DC Public Library (DCPL) in partnership with the Public Library Association (PLA) to create free public access to tools and information on caring for personal digital archives. Seven public libraries will be awarded as Network project partners and will spend one year creating personal archiving stations and programs for their communities following the DCPL model. Awardees will receive financial support for equipment, mentoring, and training, some of which will be hosted by the Library of Congress.

Lorena Ramírez-López, Project Manager for the Memory Lab Network, holds weekly online FAQ sessions for librarians interested in applying.  We caught up with her to find out what questions librarians are asking as the deadline approaches.

Who can apply to be a Memory Lab Network partner?

Applicants must be a public library [as defined on the Network’s website]. This includes tribal and rural libraries! We’re looking for libraries that are engaging with their communities around local and personal history or digital literacy, which are the foundations for a strong Memory Lab program.

What discourages potential applicants from applying but shouldn’t?

The sustainability plan. It is required as a part of the application, but it is something that we [DCPL] can develop together with applicants, and it doesn’t necessarily mean financial sustainability. We are interested in how the institutional knowledge of the lab will be passed down, shared, and replicated.

What gets lost in translation?

One common misunderstanding amongst applicants is what we mean when we talk about digital preservation. The scope is not limited to just digitizing. Born digital stuff can also be a part of the Memory Lab’s scope, such as supporting patrons downloading photos from their phone, and learning about best practices for taking care of their digital files such as organization and selection.

A Memory Lab Network FAQ webinar will take place on December 12th at 12 p.m. EST. Click here to register.

For more information about the Memory Lab Network and application instructions, visit