Yummy! The New York Public is Digitizing Their Collection of Historic NYC Restaurant Menus
While most New Yorkers keep just a few dozen restaurant menus in a kitchen drawer, the library has more than 40,000 in its stacks, listing eats ranging from the 1843 fare at the Astor House to the 2010 offerings at Chipotle.
“It’s a record of what people actually ate,” said Rebecca Federman, the culinary collection’s librarian. “It began in 1900 and is now part of our rare-books division because it is such a unique, ephemeral collection.”
But since these menus, like most of the rare books, are not available for takeout, the library is working to digitize the collection and this spring will enlist volunteers’ help in transcribing each dish on the scanned pages so that the database can be indexed.
“With the public’s help, we’ll be able to generate an amazing, searchable database, where you can visualize neighborhood restaurants and prices of dishes over time,” said Ben Vershbow, the project’s digital producer.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.