Tennessee: "New Online Archive Displays Vast Collections of Library's Memphis Room"
If you are interested in a sepia-toned photo of the 1932 graduating class of Central High School or an 1836 letter from William Andusentte of New Orleans to Britton Duke of Germantown regarding cotton prices, you can put on your shoes and button up your coat before heading to the fourth floor of the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library to see them.
Or, thanks to Sarah Frierson, digital projects manager for the library, you can put your feet up on your desk, give the mouse a few clicks and see them without ever changing out of your pajamas.
“The Memphis Room is one of the most extensive collections of local history material in the United States,” said Wayne Dowdy, senior manager of the history department. “There are very few public libraries that have the kind of in-depth research materials that we’ve got. It’s a great asset to the community because it tells Memphis’ story and Memphis’ whole story.”
The aptly named Digital Projects is a year old, and Frierson admits that while the library is a bit behind the times when it comes to digitizing archives, there is advantage in being a late bloomer.
The process involves a lot of white-gloved, hands-on time with documents and photos more than a century old. Only Frierson and a few dedicated volunteers handle the items, laying them on the glass of one of three large flatbed scanners donated by the Friends of the Library and archiving the images with CONTENTdm collection management software. They then add meta data and descriptions to display the files online at memphisroom.wordpress.com with no manipulation other than cropping and straightening.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.