Jul 20, 2023

FamilySearch Library Opens Free Memories Preservation Service

A press release from FamilySearch offers a valuable new service:

The FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, has opened a new, free service where guests can bring their personal and family records and artifacts and convert them to digital formats for easier sharing and long-term keeping. The feature is called The Family Memories Preservation Center, or Memory Lane. Visitors can convert family documents, home movies, slides, negatives, video and audio tapes, and other media to digital formats to better preserve them against loss and to make them more readily accessible to other family members or friends.

“Every family probably has photo albums or boxes of photos or old video tapes and reel-to-reel films they have produced or acquired through the years. The Memory Lane service is a great opportunity to ensure those family memories will be preserved and available for future generations,” said Debbie Gurtler, FamilySearch assistant library director.

The machines and technology available to convert old media to digital are surprisingly fast. “I brought a box of family photos and did 150 in about an hour and a half or so. You can put them all into a stack without worrying about the different sizes, place them on one of the self-feeding photo scanners, and they just automatically feed through. It’s hard to imagine how quick it can be with the high-speed scanners,” added Gurtler.

How The Family Memories Preservation Center Works

Instructions are available with each device, and volunteers and library staff are available to help visitors learn how to use any of the equipment if needed. Thumb (portable USB) drives are available for free but may not have sufficient memory for large projects. Visitors with films, videos, and large quantities of things to digitize are encouraged to bring their own flash drives or portable hard drives. Files can also be loaded directly to a patron’s personal online storage location like Google Drive and iCloud.

If applicable, digitized files can also be attached to people on the FamilySearch Family Tree via FamilySearch Memories. In Memories, they can be organized by topic, preserved as a slideshow or album, or used as sources for life sketches.

Why Old Media Should Be Transferred to Digital

Some people may not be aware that CD-ROMs and DVDs do not have permanent shelf life, showing notable signs of degradation after a just a few years if not stored properly. Not to mention technology needed to view these media types will eventually become obsolete. Once converted, digital files can be transferred quite easily to a home computer or other storage media of choice.

The FamilySearch Library is a popular tourist destination for people seeking to make family discoveries and personal connections. FamilySearch and its predecessors have been helping preserve and provide access to the world’s genealogical records since 1894. The FamilySearch Library Memory Lane service is a free extension of these services for individuals and families to preserve and share their own family memories for generations to come.

One guest recently transferred her grandfather’s self-recorded life story from tapes to a digital file. Time had rendered four of the dozen tapes inoperable, but she was able to successfully digitize the rest. She said her cousins and family members are waiting for this—to hear his voice with his distinctive Cockney accent sharing memories. He was born in London and moved to Bountiful, Utah, but he retained his accent, she shared with a smile.

Walk-ins are welcome, but a reservation is recommended to be sure the needed equipment will be available. For more details about the types of equipment available and how to make optimum use of the facility, go to FamilySearch Memories Preservation Center.

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. We are a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use our records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 125 years. People access our services and resources free online at or through over 5,000 FamilySearch centers in 129 countries, including the main FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.