What is Culture in Transit?
Culture in Transit is a collaboration between the Metropolitan New York Library Council, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library. This is a yearlong project that aims to democratize the cultural heritage of New York City by providing free digitization services to local communities and small cultural heritage institutions. This project has two components:

  • Community engagement events: Our Mobile Digitization Specialists will bring a digitization lab (scanner, laptop and camera) to library branches and invite neighbors to bring in items such as photographs, letters, maps and recipes. Patrons don’t need any technical background; all scanning will be handled by us and our volunteers. Once digitized, all items will be returned to the patron, including a flash drive with digital copies. Patrons will also be invited to share copies with the Digital Public Library of America and on the library’s own digital catalogs: Brooklyn Public Library Catalog and the Queens Memory Project.
  • Cultural heritage institutions: Our Mobile Digitization Specialist will bring a digitization lab (scanner, laptop and camera) to METRO member institutions across New York City and Westchester. She will scan selected collections and make them available on METRO’s digital platform, Digital Culture of Metropolitan New York and the Digital Public Library of America.

Will Culture in Transit be coming to my library?
There are many ways to find out if a scanning event is happening near you. Keep an eye on the events page on this blog, check at your local branch for promotional materials, ask your librarian, follow us on Twitter, or contact us directly at cultureintransit@metro.org

Culture in Transit is not coming to my library but I would still like to contribute, what should I do?
While we try to select branches that will be geographically convenient for every member of the community, we may not be able to reach every neighborhood during our year of operation. To find your nearest Culture in Transit scanning event, please contact us directly at cultureintransit@metro.org.

I don’t live in Brooklyn or Queens but have items to contribute, can I still participate?
Yes. Please feel free to attend any of our scanning events with your items.

Why should I contribute digital copies of my items to the Digital Public Library of America?
It is our hope that community members will want to be active participants in the effort to preserve New York City history. By contributing and sharing materials you are choosing how your neighborhood will be represented and remembered, playing an important role in the democratization of culture heritage. Sharing these items with a wider audience will help further the digital preservation process and allow New York City enthusiasts all over the world to benefit from these previously inaccessible items.

I work for cultural heritage institution interested in having our collection digitized. Who should I contact?
For more information regarding the mobile scanning service offered to METRO’s member institutions as part of Culture in Transit, please read the documentation on METRO website or contact contact Caroline, METRO’s Mobile Digitization Specialist at: ccatchpole@metro.org

How is this project funded?
Culture in Transit is funded by a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which we received after being selected as a winner of the News Challenge on Libraries. The Knight News Challenge on Libraries is funding breakthrough ideas that leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities.

What is the mission of the Knight Foundation?
The Knight Foundation’s mission is to promote informed and engaged communities. The foundation does that by investing in innovations in media and journalism, community engagement and the arts.

I’m interested in setting up a scanning event in my city, who should I contact with questions?
Please check the “Project Documentation” section of this website, where we are posting materials as they are developed. You can also view the documentation for an affiliated initiative, the Queens Memory Project, on their blog.  If you have additional questions, please contact cultureintransit@metro.org.

Where can I see examples of previous donations?
You can view material which has been previously donated to the affiliated project Queens Memory online.

Will the events have language support for non-English speaking donors?
Although we cannot guarantee a translator at every event, we will make every effort to provide support for the non-English speaking community.

I have items to contribute but have mobility problems, does Culture in Transit make house calls?
At this time we are unable to make home visits. However, all of our branches are accessible and can be reached by public transportation. If you are still unable to attend an event please contact us at cultureintransit@metro.org to make alternative arrangements.