How many VHS tapes do you have lying around? Videos, photos, slides, and audio tapes can all be converted to digital for free at Kalamazoo and Portage libraries.

Technology moves pretty fast and it can be tough to keep up with the times. Today, we scroll through galleries on devices, seeing tens of photographs in the time it used to take to wait for a Polaroid picture to materialize.

Vacation slideshows and Super 8 home movies were a social occasion to invite everyone on your friends list. (Athough it would have been a ridiculous idea to write down a list of your friends in those days). A delicious fondue and bacon-wrapped water chestnuts were as important as wrestling with that tripod screen to make sure it was set up before your guests arrived.

Sharing became much easier with VHS tapes that we could record with a bulky suitcase-sized camera that easily plugged into our television. Today, we all carry a camera right in our pocket and can execute a photo dump to Facebook or the cloud anywhere we can get wi-fi or a decent cell signal.

Do you still have some of those home movies on VHS? Maybe an audiocassette recording of your child's first words or a beloved grandparent's last? Now, you can digitize those school plays and not-ready-for-SportsCenter highlights absolutely free at Kalamazoo-area libraries.

The Central branch of Kalamazoo Public Library on Rose St downtown has the Idea Lab in the local history room on the second floor. You can scan photographs and slides, convert VHS tapes to DVD and audio cassettes to CD. They also have an editing suite to take your project to the next level.

Similarly, Portage District Library has a Creation Station outfitted with equipment and software for converting outdated media formats and digitizing print and analog materials from your personal or family collection. Graphic design software is also free, to get creative in making invitations, collages, calendars, or any other printable objects.

Sorry, we can't help you with 8-track tapes or reel-to-reel, but this should serve to bring some of your memories up to date and help make those fragile memories last forever.

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