Digitization projects takes fashion, photo collections, repository global
Library in midst of “huge” project to create digital archives for ease of accessibility
By Rachel Kimbrough
The library, in conjunction with the college’s Technical Services department, is working on taking several of the college’s collections global via digitization.
“[Digitization] is taking objects that exist physically and creating digital representations of them for access and preservation,” said Barry Bailey, librarian. “By participating in things like this we make the dissemination of information really easy.”
The project was initially sparked by professor emeritus Chuck Bishop’s sabbatical project in 2004, said librarian Judi Guzzy. Bishop came in contact with the family of Francis Gerald, WWII prisoner of war, who offered the college Gerald’s wartime documents. Those documents included his journal, some letters and a photo album.
Bishop proposed the idea of digitizing these documents, which got library staff members thinking, Guzzy said. The library purchased the correct software, outsourced the archiving of the actual images in order not to damage the documents and finished the cataloguing project as a team with Tech Services.
“We did this very much as a team approach and divided up the images to catalog,” Guzzy said. “People got very excited about it. It became almost very emotional because [Gerald’s] journal is so personal, so it became exciting. I’m not a WWII buff and I was totally engrossed… That was our first one.”
Then Bailey came on board, “luckily,” Guzzy said.
“He has taken off in terms of the other digital projects, as well as the institutional repository,” Guzzy said.
Under Bailey’s watch, the library is currently in the midst of digitizing a 2,500-piece fashion collection, recently moved to the college from Bishop Miege high school in Shawnee Mission; a collection of every photo Bret Gustafson, administrative photographer, has taken in his 32-year career at the college; a repository which will house scholarly essays, articles and publications by students, faculty and staff during their affiliation with the college; and every issue of the Campus Ledger, the college’s student-run newspaper.
Bailey said each of these projects is in itself a daunting task.
“The collection that’s going to be the most time-consuming and ambitious…[Gustafson] kept all his negatives since he’s been here,” Bailey said. “And we’re scanning all of them. Yeah, we’re on 1985.”
Gustafson, who has been taking photos of each piece in the fashion collection, said there is “a lot to shoot there,” so much so that he will not be able to finish shooting each piece before he retires this May.
“I’m not trying to make a statement. It’s all just documentary. Not very exciting,” Gustafson said. “It’s interesting. It gets to be boring photographing it but at least I don’t have to catalog it.”
Britt Benjamin, assistant professor of Fashion Merchandising and Design, said having the fashion collection physically on campus has been useful, but having access to the digitized collection has its perks as well.
“I went back and tried to find some donors that donated in the ‘80s, and they, of course, couldn’t remember what they donated, so I just sent them the link,” Benjamin said. “We love having it. They have worked so hard.”
All of the collections are available not only to students at the college, but to anyone with Internet access, Bailey said, because the metadata exists in a worldwide recognized format.
“When I look at where people are coming from to get information [on the college’s digital repository], it’s literally from dozens of countries,” Bailey said. “That’s a pretty cool feeling.”
Guzzy said the process of digitizing collections is different from compiling a digital repository in that the former is image-based and the latter is text and publication-based. She said each type of cataloging project has its own set of “quirks” and ways in which it differs from the others, but that all the work is worth it for students’ sake.
“The reasons to do these things are for our students,” she said. “They can be great resources to use in the future, in classes, looking at the history of [the college], so that’s pretty exciting. I don’t think there’s a point to doing them unless it has a value to students. And it does.”
Contact Rachel Kimbrough, editor-in-chief, at firstname.lastname@example.org.