Remember the Good Old Days – Save Your Memories for Free

I’ve got to admit, I have boxes and boxes of family videos on VHS. One that I filmed even made it on the very first episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos! (Naturally, I had to share it. My video comes right after the episode’s winner of a lady stuck in a dishwasher.)

My videos have been sitting in a closet for years, unwatched, unloved, forgotten. Over the years, I’ve briefly thought about getting the tapes transferred to a flash drive so I could watch them on a computer and easily share them among family members, friends and oh, whoever else I could get to watch. But the cost was high, money was tight, packing them up to be shipped off would be time consuming. For one reason or another, I never got around to it.

Ditto with family photos.

Author and her mother

Both my husband, Doug, and I have tons of them – some dating back to my great-grandparents.

Author’s great-grandparents and grandmother (in white shoes)

Being a bit older (okay, lots older!), Doug has boxes of slides from years of working in print media. Some are really good, but who wants to drag out a projector and screen? And magazines and newspapers won’t accept slide submissions anymore.

Doug Kelly and friend

All of these things take up space, collect dust and sadly, probably deteriorate.

Author as a child

Much to my delight, I saw that the Clearwater Library System has a free (yes, free!) drop-off digital conversion service called the Memvelope – short for Memory Envelope. I immediately started texting family members like crazy. We all perked up.

(Sidenote: I’ve got to admit, I had to run down there with my VHS tapes immediately before writing this article to be one of the first in line!)

Fond memories of camping as a child

I filled out the front of one Memvelope and inserted four VHS tapes – all labeled with exciting titles, such as “Teddy’s 1st Birthday Party,” “Teddy’s Kindergarten Graduation” and “Kelly 7th months pregnant” – the last of which, by the way, won’t be shared to very many people! I also inserted a 32gb USB flash drive into the Memvelope.


Persons submitting media for the Memvelope program must be residents of Pinellas County. There is a limit to how many VHS tapes/slides/photos/film reels/photo negatives/prints/cassettes/CDs /vinyl records a person can submit per month and per year. (Otherwise, I’d be pitching a tent right outside the library!) And yes, music aficionados and collectors are welcome too.

***Note – Since the Clearwater Main Library is closing on September 25, 2020 for renovation, the Heritage Studio will be moving to the Countryside Library branch. However, Pinellas County residents can pick up a Memvelope at any Clearwater library, fill it with a variety of items, drop it off for library staff to digitize, and pick up the completed digital files and originals at a later date at the same branch at which they dropped off materials. The digital files can then be shared on social media or uploaded to a variety of online and cloud-based storage providers. No library card is required to use the Memvelope.

And, oh joy! I can submit four more VHS tapes (or a slew of photos) next month – and a total of four submissions a year. For photos and other media, you can stuff the Memvelope – and it truly is really big – so you can fit quite a lot in there.

Author’s son in an embarrassing homemade Halloween costume

The duplication process takes up to 30 days. So I’m waiting patiently (not really), but I’m excited to see the recordings for the first time in almost 30 years! Family and friends stay tuned…

The following information is courtesy of the Clearwater Main Library:

Memvelope: The Memory Envelope

Introducing the Memvelope (memory envelope), a no cost drop-off digital conversion service of the Clearwater Public Library System. Learn more by visiting the library: https://bit.ly/memvelope

Posted by Clearwater Public Library System on Monday, August 10, 2020

Introducing the Memvelope (memory envelope), a no cost drop-off digital conversion service of the Clearwater Public Library System. Learn more by visiting the library: https://bit.ly/memvelope.

What is the Memvelope service?

The Memvelope, or memory envelope, is a no cost drop-off digital conversion service offered at the Main Library. Pinellas County residents can pick up a Memvelope, fill it with a variety of items, drop it off for library staff to digitize, and pick up the completed digital files and originals at a later date.

The Heritage Studio offers patrons the option to reserve time to digitize a variety of items at self-service stations. The Memvelope provides greater flexibility to those who cannot spend time in the Heritage Studio.

How does the Memvelope work?

1. Pick up a Memvelope (memory envelope) packet at the library.
2. Organize and count the items to be dropped-off.
3. Complete the Temporary Loan Agreement form and included item inventory.

4. Sign and date the form.

5. Fill the Memvelope packet with your items, storage media (USB flash drive or similar) and close.

  • The envelope must be able to close completely using its metal clasp.
  • Don’t forget to write your name and contact method on the Memvelope.
6. Stop by the Main Library service desk (1st or 4th floor).
7. Staff will review and sign the Temporary Loan Agreement form.
8. You will retain a copy of the signed form; treat this copy as your receipt.
9. Staff digitizes your items.
10. Staff contacts you for pickup.

What can be converted?

Any format that can be digitized at the Heritage Studio’s stations is available for drop-off:

  • Video formats: VHS, compact VHS-C, Hi-8 cassettes, miniDV cassettes, and Betamax cassettes.
  • Audio formats: audio cassettes, micro audio cassettes, ¼ inch audio reels, audio CDs, and vinyl records.
  • Film formats: 16 mm, Super 8, and regular 8 mm film reels.
  • Photographs, prints, negatives and transparencies: any item that fits inside the Memvelope.

NOTE: The regular 8mm film  is conversion currently unavailable while equipment is undergoing repairs.

How are digital files saved?

All scanned and converted items will be saved onto the provided storage device without editing of any kind.

  • Photographs will be scanned at a 600 dpi resolution and saved as .tif files.
  • Slides and negatives will be scanned at a 1200 dpi resolution and saved as .tif files.
  • Books will be scanned at a 300 dpi resolution and saved as .pdf files.
  • Audio files will be saved as .mp3 files.
  • Video cassettes will be saved as .mp4 files.
  • Film (8mm & 16 mm) will be saved as .mts files.

Terms of Use

  • Users must adhere to Maker Studios Terms of Use, the Library Code of Conduct, and all federal, state, and local laws.
  • Users must be at least 18 years old.
  • Users must complete a Temporary Loan Agreement form whenever dropping off items.
  • Users are limited to one (1) drop-off per month and four (4) drop-offs per calendar year.
  • All drop-off items must fit within a 12” x 15.5” envelope provided by the Library.
    • Vinyl records that do not fit in the envelope must have the Owner’s full name clearly marked.
    • There is a limit of four (4) video cassettes of any format per drop-off.
  • Users must provide storage media along with their items.
    • USB flash drives or SD cards are recommended.
    • At least 8GB of storage is recommended. Note: 1 hour of video is stored as 1GB.
  • Staff will complete digitization within 28 days after drop-off.
    • If more time is expected, the user will be contacted by staff.
  • Staff will not edit, retouch, or otherwise alter digitized item files.
  • Items must be picked up within 30 days after Library staff provide notice that digitization is complete.

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Kelly Kelly
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