Converting to eTechnology

The first week of March is Read an eBook Week, when many publishers offer free or discounted eBooks. However, many ebooks are available to be checked out for free from your library. Through Fontana Regional Library, you can create an account with RB Digitial, OverDrive, or other providers of ebooks.

eBooks have been increasingly popular over the past ten to fifteen years. It is too early to predict whether ebooks will mostly replace printed books in coming years, or whether books will be available for many decades to come. While considerably fewer books were printed in the years shortly after ebooks became popular, sales of printed books have rebounded in recent years; Fontana Regional Library continues to add thousands of printed books each year!

It is interesting to observe how improving technology changes the formats we use for information and entertainment. Books have been printed for hundreds of years, and were preceded by tablets and scrolls thousands of years earlier.

Audio recordings have been with us only during a much shorter period. Recordings of any type were still new when my grandparents were young. I remember my grandfather’s small collection of 78s; I collected LPs in my day, with more minutes recorded on a single record. In the second half of the twentieth century, technology also led to recording on magnetic tape in the form of 4- and 8-track tape cartridges, then cassette tapes. Both records and tapes became mostly obsolete after digital technology led to compact discs. CDs, however, have in turn become less important with the ability to download digital audio files from the internet for use on any media player.

The Memory Lab at most Fontana Regional Libraries includes equipment to convert LP records or cassette tapes to CDs or mp3 files. This service is free to any user of the library (unless blank CDs or flash drives are purchased by the user).

Photography was developed a few decades earlier than audio recording, but it was again in my grandparents’ childhood that technology in the form of cameras became available to many people. Of course, drawing and painting were used to record visual images even earlier than tablets were first used for writing!

In my own childhood, photography was a slow process of creating prints from the negative images that cameras placed on film. Today, cameras and smartphones instantly record images on digital files available to be shared online. But for those of us with lots of mementos from an earlier age, equipment in the Memory Lab allows slides and negatives to be converted to digital files.

Naturally, photography did not stall with stills, but led to moving pictures, and silent movies progressed to include audio recordings. In my grandparents’ day, home movies could be made using the 8mm format, which improved to Super 8 in my own childhood, then camcorders recording on VHS videocassettes. Digital technology led to DVDs; today, digital video files are shared online without even being saved on a film, cassette, or disc.

You guessed it: the Memory Lab includes equipment to convert VHS videocassettes to DVD discs, and 8mm or Super 8 films to DVDs or mp4 digital files.

So, while owning collections of LPs, cassettes, film, negatives and slides might date you as among the young-only-at-heart, you have only to stop at your library to convert your collections to the digital files favored by the truly young!