Voice of the Archives November 2015
Archive "Heralds" Change
The past several months has brought a massive amount of change to the Truban Archives and Shenandoah Room. We have welcomed a new archivist, new volunteers, new programs, and new initiatives. More importantly, we have also been busy acquiring and developing new collections and tools designed to help us better understand this area’s past.
Collections are the lifeblood of the archives and we are always working to grow our holdings. One of our more notable recent acquisitions has been the Shenandoah Valley-Herald Collection. On the 23rd of September the newspaper agreed to place on permanent loan 149 bound volumes of the Shenandoah Herald, Shenandoah Valley, and Shenandoah Valley-Herald newspapers dating from 1923-2015. This means that every edition of those papers known to exist is now available at the library.
R.J. Lambert unloading the volumes of the Shenandoah Valley-Herald Collection in the archives
These newspapers are a treasure trove of information about local events, social life, businesses, government, organizations, and much more. Processing of this collection is ongoing, but interest has already been high. Within a day of their arrival researchers accessed them five times.
Picture of the oldest known newspaper printed in Shenandoah County,
the December 24th 1817 edition of the Woodstock Herald
Our physical collection is not the only thing that has expanded. The vast majority of individuals now access information online. To meet that need we have launched several new online tools and programs.
The first of these tools is our new digital collections. This project has been in the works for the last several months as our staff worked to select an online platform for our materials, to upload scanned items, and to enter necessary descriptive information. Ultimately these collections were launched using the Omeka platform which is a free program create by several universities that is fully searchable and easy to operate. So far both our newspaper clipping collection and a portion of our Herb Parker postcard collection is available and many more items are on their way.
A screen shot of our new digital collection’s page
To expand the amount of material that we can make available online we celebrated American Archives month with two digitization programs. The first was a public scanning day held on October 3rd. Despite a deluge of rain from Hurricane Joaquin that limited attendance, six volunteers were able to digitize items loaned to use by five individuals during that time period.
Volunteers at work during the digitization day (left) and a 1922 Mt. Jackson High School diploma scanned during the program (right
Our second event, a digitization marathon during the week of October 19-23rd produced more dramatic results. Volunteers staffed our scanning station between 10:00AM and 4:00PM the majority of those days and scanned ten of our county tax books, a total of over 4000 pages. All of these items are currently being processed and will be made available online within the next few months.
Volunteer Judy Reynolds recording information during our digitzation marathon (left) and completed tax books (right)
When access to the library website recently crashed, we took the opportunity to rework our entire site and create several new ways to help individuals discover the area’s history. The local history section received a complete makeover. This included the addition of two new blogs. The first of these, entitled Voice of the Archives, is published monthly and is an in depth review of an aspect of the Shenandoah Room and Truban Archives. The second, Lost in Collection, is updated more often and highlights unique items found in our collection.
A screen shot of the local history page of our new website.
We have also worked to open our collection to the millions of individuals utilizing social media. In addition to positing information about special programs, each week we post a “Throwback Thursday” (#tbt) post on the library’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. These highlight an item from our collection that is related to something a historic event or popular celebration that happened during that week. Each of these posts is connected with our account on the HistoryPin website. This tool allows us to create digital exhibits that include background information on the item, the community, and our history. Each item is also “pinned” to a location on an interactive Google Map that gives visitors the ability to visualize the historic site or document at its original location. So far our combined social media effort has attracted approximately 4000 views per month.
Links to our HistoryPin profile, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.