Cherished memories saved for next generation with help from Addison Public Library
Rose Falcone, a resident of Addison for over 15 years, had been wondering what to do with her old 8 mm and Super 8 film reels. She had captured her family's life on camera, filming weddings and parties, and hoped to pass on those memories to her grandchildren. Falcone knew from a friend's experience that converting old film to a digital format could be expensive, so she put the project on hold.
"I thought, who is ever going to see my old movies unless I do something? But it's a fortune to have your film put on DVDs," Falcone said.
Then one day, she opened the library's March/April newsletter to find a promotion for the library's film-to-digital converters, which she could use for free. Falcone wasted no time reaching out to Ben Eggler, the library's creative services coordinator, to learn how to use the machine. The pair set up a one-on-one appointment right away and got to work.
"Ben was able to show me how to do it, and then I did it on my own," Falcone said. "It works like this: you take your film, and you put it onto the machine, and you can look as it's going through. You see the parts you want to save and the parts you want to toss out. It helps you organize your film as you go."
As the library's creative services coordinator, Eggler is no stranger to introducing patrons to technologies they might not be aware of and teaching them how they work. He has received a lot of inquiries and has helped a number of patrons use the film-to-digital converters.
"But so far, no one has used the converters as much as Rose Falcone," Eggler said. "Rose worked like a machine to learn how to use our equipment over the past couple months. She is such a fun student to work with, and I am so impressed with her desire to learn."
The library has two types of film-to-digital converters. One machine is available in the library's Sound Studio and can convert 8 mm and Super 8 film feels up to 9 inches in diameter. The other machine can digitize reels up to 5 inches in diameter and can be checked out and taken home for out-of-library use. Falcone ultimately digitized over 50 film reels ranging from 3 inches to 9 inches with the library's converters, working both in the library and at home to digitize her film.
"Thank goodness I could borrow (the 5 inches reel film converter) and work on it in my spare time. Had I not been able to take the machine home, I would have been sleeping (at the library)," Falcone joked. "It took a while, but the memories are there, so I don't care how long it took."
Eggler explained that the conversion can be a time-consuming process: a 5-inch reel for example, which has only about 12 minutes of footage, can take close to 2 hours to digitize.
"But that didn't deter Rose in the slightest," he said. "She powered through."
The pair have worked on this project together for a couple months. Eggler would call to check on Falcone's progress at home and answer her questions, and Falcone would return to the Sound Studio time and time again to keep working.
"Every time we spoke she was joyful and grateful, because she was making real progress in this rather large project. It was very fulfilling for me to hear how much work she was getting done, because I knew how important this project was to her," Eggler said. "I was honored to be a part of helping to keep these old memories of hers alive so they wouldn't be forgotten."
Falcone was a library fan long before starting her film conversion project, but working with Eggler has shown her just how much her local library has to offer.
"If it were not for the library, I would have lost all my memories. I would have been heartbroken," she said. "I would have never known (the film converters) existed. I never knew we had 3D printing either, and when I came in Ben showed me the machine, and I was amazed. I'm very happy the library offers so much."
Now that her cherished memories have been saved, it's time for the next phase of the project: organizing the footage and burning it onto DVDs to pass down to her grandchildren. After that, she plans to work with Eggler to use the library's large format printer to enlarge a map of Sicily that she loves.
"Ben is very patient," Falcone said. "His knowledge is just unbelievable."
Eggler hopes Falcone's story will inspire other Addison residents not to shy away from their passion projects.
"If any task you want to accomplish seems too herculean in size, remember that it's OK to take it one day at a time and work on it bit by bit," he said. "What matters most is that you don't give up, because one day that huge task you never thought you'd be able to finish will be finished, and then you'll always remember that if you set your mind to it, you can do anything.
Falcone, too, hopes her story will show the community that you are never too old to learn something new, especially when you can lean on the library to help you keep up with today's rapid technological changes.
"Never stop learning," she said. "Never stop learning, no matter what age."
The Addison Public Library is located at 4 Friendship Plaza. The Creative Studio and Sound Studio are on the library's second floor. For more information on available technology or to set up a one-on-one appointment with the library's creative services coordinator, visit addisonlibrary.org/technology or call (630) 458-3354.