Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sounds Of The Past

I few days ago I awoke to the sound of a gentle rain.  Probably because it was quite early my mind wandered and I found myself wondering about the everyday sounds our ancestors heard that we no longer do today.  Some of these may still be heard, but by a much smaller percentage of people than in our ancestors' day.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these were the first things that came to mind.

Chopping wood
Butter churn (agricultural census schedules often ask about pounds of butter produced)
Sweeping (no vacuums)
Rug beating
Water pump
Horse trotting (also pulling a wagon or buggy)
Farm animals (hens, roosters, pigs, sheep, cows).  Check the agricultural schedule to learn what animals your family had.

Obviously, we could also play this game in reverse, listing the sounds we hear that our ancestors didn't.  However, this list would be extremely long as you can no doubt imagine.  I'll just mention a few things that tremendously alter our soundscape:  motor vehicles (especially if you live on a busy street), televisions and radios, phones and even just the hum of a refrigerator. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

KPL Opens Digitization Hub!

We all have items we would love to digitize, but haven't done it because of a lack of time, equipment or know-how.  Although the Kalamazoo Public Library doesn't yet have the technology to add hours to your day, it can help with the rest.  Now, library patrons who live in the KPL Resident Area (mostly Kalamazoo and Oshtemo townships, see here for a map) can utilize The Hub

In The Hub you can digitize photos, negatives, slides, records, and cassettes.  You can also convert those old home movies on VHS to DVD.  There are a couple of caveats, however.  1) You need to have a cloud account, a flash drive or an external hard drive on which to save your treasures.  2) Recordings occur in "real time," meaning that if your video lasts 40 minutes you'll have to sit there the whole time waiting for it to finish.  You might consider taking a book along.

If you want to go beyond mere digitization and create narrated videos or podcasts you can use the editing software available in The Hub to create something to really wow your family.  A list of the software programs available is in the sidebar on the Hub's webpage.  A link to the user's guides for these programs can also be found there.

The Hub is located on the third floor of the central library, but is open only limited hours (Tues. 3-8 pm and Thurs. 10 am - 3 pm.)  There are four digitization stations and as many production stations.  Both Macs and PCs are available.  It is advisable to reserve a workstation online ahead of time, which you can do here

I'm not certain how much assistance the library staff can provide, but I imagine that they will instruct you in how to use the equipment.  This is a great resource for KPL patrons.