Using the Memory Lab: Values, Impacts, and Discourses
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Personal digital archiving is how individuals accumulate, organize, store, and preserve digital possessions in their personal lives. New initiatives like the Memory Lab at the DC Public Library increasingly bring DIY digital conversion and preservation practices into public spaces. In order to study the values and impacts of such services and the discourses they activate, I interviewed 13 library staff and patrons about their experiences with personal digital archiving resources at DCPL. Interviewees emphasized values and impacts such as access to resources and the library's role in supporting digital literacy, as well as obstacles to participation including the difficulty of learning new skills and technologies. A critical discourse analysis of one interview reveals additional discourses at play: personal digital archiving at the public library can be valued as a resource for managing (having power over) change, a means of re-situating identity, and a vehicle for (re)imagining the future. This research contributes to our understanding of the narratives and attitudes that shape emerging personal digital archiving practices.