The King County Library System Foundation has been awarded an impressive $800,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation, a philanthropic organization committed to empowering communities through the arts and humanities. This substantial funding will fuel the development of two innovative Memory Labs at the King County Library System (KCLS), strategically located in the Makerspace sections of the Bellevue and Federal Way Libraries.
The Memory Lab project, spanning a five-year period, aims to collaborate with community partners to gather, amplify, and preserve the stories of patrons impacted by systemic inequities, language barriers, and cultural challenges. The focus will be on two distinct audiences: Asian Americans and their descendants in the Bellevue area who faced displacement during World War II, and immigrants and refugees who now call King County home.
Designed to foster connection, understanding, and storytelling, the Memory Lab project seeks to achieve the following for participants and patrons:
• Increased Sense of Connection: Participants will feel a stronger connection to one another.
• Story Sharing: Patrons will have the opportunity to share their stories in ways they may not have been able to before.
• Understanding Systemic Factors: Participants and patrons will gain a better understanding of how lives have been shaped by systemic factors.
Commencing in 2026, KCLS will utilize sound booths at both Makerspace locations to record participants’ stories. These recorded stories will be archived on the KCLS website and through StoryCorps, a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing stories. In 2028, KCLS will host two events—one at each Makerspace—to showcase the compelling stories collected through the Memory Lab.
Lisa Rosenblum, KCLS Executive Director, expressed enthusiasm about the grant.
“KCLS is thrilled to receive Mellon Foundation funding for our new and innovative Memory Lab project,” said Rosenblum. “We look forward to centering and celebrating these important stories by creating an enduring collection for all to experience.”
Lisa Yamasaki, KCLS Foundation Executive Director, echoed the sentiment.
“The Mellon Foundation has provided us with an incredible opportunity to honor patrons through storytelling,” said Yamasaki. “We’re excited to help shine a light on the moments and narratives that have shaped our communities.”
To learn more about the Memory Lab project and find out how to participate, interested individuals are encouraged to contact [email protected]. This initiative promises to create a lasting impact, celebrating the rich tapestry of stories that form the vibrant community of King County.