City of Newcastle Manager Libraries and Learning Suzie Gately, City of Newcastle Heritage Collections Digitisation Specialist Kerrie Shaw, State Library of NSW Manager of Public Library Services Cameron Morley and Councillor Carol Duncan in the newly opened DigiLab Picture: Supplied

Newcastle history’s future in safe hands thanks to cutting-edge tech

A state-of-the-art digitisation lab, unveiled at Newcastle Library on Friday, will ensure rare and fragile items, dating back to the early 1800s, are preserved for future generations.

The high-tech $400,000 DigiLab will feature cutting-edge equipment including 3D scanning instruments and robotic page-turners capable of converting an impressive 2,500 pages an hour into bits and bytes.

Another great feature of the DigiLab, available to library customers now, is the Memory Lab which will allow people to preserve their own histories and stories by converting family items on VHS, VHS-C cassette and 8mm video into digital files for free.

How good is that?

“The Library History and Heritage Collection encompasses more than 440,000 items, with some of these collections dating back to the early 1800s and featuring rare, unique and notable items,” Councillor Carol Duncan said.

“As the custodians of the City’s archives, we look forward to being able to preserve the many ageing records we look after thanks to the assistance of the State Library of NSW grant and our own significant investment. Following our successful digitisation of these records, we look forward to being able to open up this exciting service to our customers.”

Libraries and Learning manager Suzie Gately added that providing greater access to the collection would support researchers and inspire local creatives to interpret and use digitised materials to present local history in different ways.

“The DigiLab will provide rich, high-quality content for both physical exhibitions as well as augmented and virtual reality, allowing us to tell Newcastle’s stories in new and innovative ways,” she said.

“We will also be able to integrate this output with the technologies on offer at our Digital Library at 12 Stewart Avenue, including the 8 metre-wide Digital Storywall and the digital multimedia ‘Magic Box’, which is only the second of its kind in Australia.”

Bookings are required to make use of the Memory Lab. Contact Newcastle Library for more details.