by Maggie Schreiner, Outreach Coordinator, Queens Memory

Many items that can help add to the history of Queens are sitting forgotten in apartments and basements all over our borough, potentially being damaged by poor storage conditions. Over the past three years, the Queens Memory program (a collaboration of Queens Library and Queens College) has encouraged members of our community to dig out these items and bring them to the library. And now we’re expanding that work to even more neighborhoods in Queens.

Queens Memory, in collaboration with the Metropolitan New York Library Council and the Brooklyn Public Library, will spend the next year hosting community history events at ten libraries across Queens. This cross-institutional collaboration, Culture in Transit, is a recent winner of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge, and has a simple objective: democratizing the cultural heritage of New York City.

With the support of our partners and the Knight Foundation, Queens Memory will continue to provide community members with the tools and technology to share their Queens memorabilia and cultural heritage with the world. We're looking for materials like photographs, fliers and documents from families, businesses, block associations or community organizations.

As part of our Culture in Transit partnership, we have a mobile digitization lab (including a scanner, laptop and camera) which we bring to our community history events. Customers can bring in their family photos, documents and other memorabilia, and we digitize the materials on-site. All scanning is handled by Queens Memory staff and volunteers, and we don’t keep the original materials, just the digital copies. We return the originals on the same day, and also provide customers with a free flash drive containing additional digital copies of their materials. We include the scanned images on our website and also share them with the Digital Public Library of America.


Culture in TransitCulture in Transit













Left: Our mobile digitization lab, all packed and ready to go!
Right: Queens Library staff member Dacia Metes at the Broad Channel Library in August 2014 with local resident Patricia Rosendale.

Queens Memory isn't just about digital preservation. We want community members to be active participants in shaping Queens history. By contributing and sharing materials, they are choosing how their neighborhood will be represented and remembered, playing an important role in the democratization of culture heritage. This is a great opportunity to meet neighbors, share stories and engage with local history in a unique way.

We have hosted events at Broad Channel, Court Square, Long Island City, Seaside, St Albans, and Sunnyside in the past, and we are excited to expand this project to new community libraries and neighborhoods over the coming year! Contact us to see where we will be traveling and if you are interested in having a community history event at your local library!