January 22, 2022

Penn State University Engineering Librarians Digitize Critical Data to Aid in Fukushima Cleanup

From Penn. State University:

Shortly after the disaster at Fukushima, Bonnie Osif, librarian in the College of Engineering, and her colleague (Thomas Conkling, head of the Engineering Library) found themselves on a conference call with officials at the Tokyo Electric Power Co., who were interested in some of the cleanup and technical reports from the the TMI-2 collection. There was only one hitch: how to get the thousands of pages of information to the other side of the globe.

Thirty-two years earlier, in March 1979, Pennsylvania suffered a partial nuclear meltdown of its own. Although much smaller in scope, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident was the worst in U.S. nuclear history. Following the cleanup, the Engineering Library acquired a large archive of reports, videotapes and photographs from the disaster. These documents made up the Three Mile Island 2 (TMI-2) Recovery and Decontamination Collection.

“The problem was getting this information quickly to Japan in a form they could easily use,” stated Albert Rozo, reformatting supervisor in Digitization and Preservation at Pattee Library. “The 93 reports Japan was interested in could easily fill many boxes and, while readable, could not be quickly searched.”

Rozo and Osif needed to find a way to expedite the reports to Japan and in a way that could be searched quickly. To come up with a solution, they teamed up with others in the Engineering Library and decided to digitize the records. Many of the documents were public domain and could be reproduced without permission, but those from other agencies needed to be cleared for duplication. Once permissions were granted, things progressed quickly.

Learn More About Rozo’s and Osif’s Digitization Work

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.