Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Proposal for a regional digitization project, part 1

After the Special Libraries Association Conference in Baltimore last week, I stayed the weekend in Harrisburg, PA, where I spent my childhood. Harrisburg has gone through tremendous changes over the last 50 years -- both good and bad. In recent years, the city has revived itself and is now a place of positives and of hope.

Harrisburg has always been a place of rich history and with many historic sites. Sadly, it is a history that is not broadly known (as it is with many other areas). However, as I strolled the streets and walked along the Susquehanna River, I saw that the history is being made visible. There are historic markers in front of buildings that tell the history of the area and of specific sites. Some of the markers contain photos or drawings of what a specific site used to look like. The markers help people -- residents and visitors alike -- to know and appreciate what occurred there beginning in the early 1700s.

But there is one problem. One must walks the streets and read the markers in order to soak in the history. Yes, some of it is online (and here), but not all of it and it is not like being there.

This is a problem -- an opportunity -- that many regions face and discuss as they consider digitizing materials. How can you take the history of a place, digitize it, and display it in a way that makes the history visible? Who would contribute? What would be the benefits? And how would you overcome the obstacles?

Over the next few days, I am going to explore this type of digitization project and begin to address those questions.

Stay tuned...

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jill,

In my mind, there is another layer to a regional digitization project, and that is as a digital repository service to all of the smaller archives within the region.

In that way, as we digitize images (still and moving), sounds, text, and acquire born-digital content, each small archive within a region would not have to reinvent the wheel and develop a secure and robust IT infrastructure to support its digital collection.

What better place than to start in the state capital of PA?