Richmond Public Library gets $900,000 to expand Memory Lab

RPL won the grant from the Mellon Foundation and will use funds over five years


The Main Library is home to the only Memory Lab in Central Virginia.

Photo by RICtoday

The Richmond Public Library will soon have $900,000 to expand and modernize the Memory Lab at the Main Branch.

Main’s Memory Lab is part of the national Memory Lab Network, which began at the DC Public Library to increase community and personal archiving projects.

The $900,000 grant will be used over five years to build up the services and equipment available at the RPL Memory Lab. According to Library Board of Trustee Chris Peterson, it is the largest grant the library has ever received.

In addition to increasing access for the public, the money will help RPL digitize a large amount of city records and historic documents, including donated yearbooks, items from local clubs and civic organizations, and out of print periodicals.


You can use the Memory Lab’s resources to digitize family documents, old photos, and more.

Photo via Richmond Public Library

Right now at the lab, Richmonders can learn how to digitize materials, conduct oral histories, and preserve items — whether that’s a collection of family photographs, home movies on VHS, or a series of old letters.

Want to get started on a project now? The lab is located to the right of the welcome desk at Main Library. You can also book time in advance to use equipment and consult with a staff member.

The Mellon Foundation made headlines last year for its round of Richmond-based grants totaling more than $16 million. Recipients last year included the city, the JXN Project, and The Valentine. The Memory Lab grant comes from the foundation’s Public Knowledge program.