European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC)

Memory Lab – Online Guide for Community Archivers

Serbia and Montenegro

In Serbia a gap exists between institutional lack of interest and support regarding personal preservation, and the public demand for access to the digitisation technology and technical know-how. To bridge this gap SKVER has initiated the Memory Lab, a physical space with the equipment for the digitisation of the most popular media formats, an online space that provides access to the personal archiving resources, and an education hub that offers classes and events to the members of the community.

The main concept of Memory Lab is founded on the idea of democratising the digitisation process and digital preservation of cultural heritage. Its goal is to share this specialised knowledge and make it accessible to all members of a community, regardless of their abilities, age, location, language, education, culture, and economic status. To achieve this, Memory Lab consists of three key components: providing free access to digitising equipment, creating and promoting online digitization and digital preservation resources, and organising various educational and cultural programs.

The Lab includes equipment for digitising video and audio and scanning photographs, documents, and slides in a public computing space. The program was first tested in several US public libraries, initiated by our organisation’s partner institutions. We especially like its title, which adds a poetic layer to a story about technology. It stresses the importance of having an active attitude in creating a history narrative, where the smallest detail, the tiniest measurement of memory, has an equal status to the events and people considered historically important by the official institutions. Here, no story is irrelevant, and no frame of history is unimportant.

As a city in eastern Serbia, Zaječar shares the destiny of many provincial towns in former Yugoslavia. With the privatisation of the economy, the public space was erased, as was the possibility to reflect on recent history.

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