I’ve mentioned in forums and on social media that I’ve been using Stacy Julian’s Library of Memories categories with the Project Life products and concept from Becky Higgins. There has been a lot of questions and interest, so this post officially introduces my approach.
β†’ See other posts in this series.

More than a year ago I blogged about our community’s increasing emphasis on scrapbooking everyday life. While I respect those who choose to document many details in traditional Project Life albums, I’ve seen too many scrapbookers get frustrated and give up on the weekly, chronological approach.

At that time, I also mentioned that I really liked the Project Life products. So much, it turns out, they stuck in my mind for quite a while. All through the spring of 2012 I thought about Project Life and how I might be able to adapt the pocket page protector approach for my own needs. With a baby’s life to document, I was in the perfect season of life to figure out a simple approach that could capture her story (as well as ours) and be something doable for the average busy memory keeper like me.

After all, I never said I was anti-Project Life. My whole point was that a chronological, creative photo-diary of life was not a good fit for me (and I suspected, not for many scrapbookers like me.) What I wanted was an organized method to include Project Life pocket pages with regular layouts, and one that you really couldn’t “get behind” with.

“When you let go of being 100% chronological you can find freedom to scrapbook the stories that matter most, using the products that make the most sense for the job.”

How it All Started

I thought and browsed and thought some more. The lightbulb finally went off when I saw the plain plastic Project Life dividers on Amazon.

Since 2009 I had been organizing my layouts in four albums corresponding to the Library of Memories categories: People We Love, Places We Go, Things We Do, and All About Us. I loved Stacy’s approach to organizing photos and stories as well as her mantra of “do something with some of your photos”. For me scrapbooking is a wonderful, rich layer to the photos we take, adding depth and color to the stories of life.

What if, I thought, I used the dividers to create Library of Memories categories within a single album? This would allow me tell stories over the album’s span of time, but simultaneously escape the day-to-day documentation. I could capture life right now, when I am interested and able, without worry that I’ll get behind by days or weeks.

I wasn’t sure if it would work – if my album would really come together. But it did. Now that I’ve given it a thorough test, I’m ready to suggest that maybe Project Life + Library of Memories could work for you.

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The Essentials of This Approach

At its most basic, take a 12×12 album and add four dividers. Insert memories in between. There’s no behind because you’re never on a certain week.Β Add photos, stories, layouts and memorabilia as you go.

When you leverage the super easy and super fast features of the Project Life system, you can get more photos scrapbooked. I think we can all agree on that.

By adding in layouts, you can offer an additional level of storytelling that can only come from reflection. Even more significantly, when you let go of being 100% chronological you can find freedom to scrapbook the stories that matter most, using the products that make the most sense for the job.

Page examples from the Things We Do (left, bottom right) and Places We Go (top right) categories.

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Products for Project Life + Library of Memories

When I started this experiment, I thought I would use grid cards, washi tape and patterned paper to make all my own cards. After making a few and battling my perfectionist demons along the way, I realized that I simply wanted a place to write. I’m finishing up this 2011-2012 baby album with printables from Paislee Press. For 2013, I’m using the Project Life kit from Studio Calico and will likely purchase one of the latest core kits later in the spring to have a broader selection of journaling cards.

Because this album had a single subject, I replaced All About Us with All About You. This is one of my first pages in that category.

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The soaring popularity of Project Life also means that 3×4 journaling cards as well as journaling tags and other bits for smaller-scale scrapbooking are easy to find these days. Echo Park has even licensed the Photo Freedom brand to create a line of products for non-chronological page protector scrapbooking. And at CHA Winter last week, We R Memory Keepers (true pioneers of the divided page protector) announced that the 3×4 size was coming to their Albums Made Easy system.

I believe these products can help us all tuck more photos into albums so we can have time to tell the really good stories that can’t fit on a 3×4 card.

Little to No “Designing”

Unlike with regular layouts, I don’t think a lot about designing a page or a spread. I simply insert photos and journaling cards in each category as I go. Sometimes I’ll have photos ready before journaling cards and other times I’ll have journaling cards ready before photos. This means there are sometimes gaps and it may look more unfinished, but I love seeing this album live and grow. I also don’t necessarily pair a journaling card one-to-one with photos. Some stories don’t have a photo and some photos don’t need a story.

The main areas where I try to be a little more creative are with the title page and my dividers. I’ve also done inserts from a single event that were more coordinated, but again it’s about getting the photos into the album. The bulk of my creative energy goes into theΒ individual layouts inserted in each category. I love the 8.5×11 ones especially; the smaller page protectors in the album feel bit more special.

Title page for my 2011-2012 baby album.

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Dividers decorated with washi tape and Thickers.

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Semi-Chronological Scrapbooking Freedom

For the projects I’m working on right now, I’m essentially working semi-chronologically. The albums are for a fixed time period. Many of the photos end up in roughly chronological order within each category, but I don’t consider where layouts or other inserts fit with regard to date.

I use some dated products, like a Hello 2013 card on my new album’s cover page, but for the most part don’t tie anything back to a calendar. I’ll sometimes use a date stamp on a layout, but it doesn’t matter to me whether my daughter started walking on the 12th or the 13th. What matters is that I captured the moment and told the story. I am all about good enough.

What I love most about this alternate approach is the new possibilities it offers everyday storytellers. With Project Life + Library of Memories, you can do Project Life without the stress of getting behind.

What’s Next?

Going forward, I’ll be sharing more of my pages here on Simple Scrapper. First up will be a deeper peek into this 2011-2012 baby album. I’m just about to order the last batch of photos from 2012 that I need to finish it up. Then, we’ll dive into my 2013 projects which reunite the baby with the rest of our family in a single album.

In the meantime, I’d love if you left a comment sharing what you think of this approach. Is Project Life + Library of Memories something that could work for you?Β Do you have any questions? I love hearing your voice in the conversation, so jump right in.

Project Life + Library of Memories is a recurring blog series at Simple Scrapper. Project Life is a modular system of products created by Becky Higgins. Library of Memories is a non-chronological memory keeping approach developed by Stacy Julian.