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Digitization Kits Help Libraries Broaden Access to Unique Local Collections

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Guest post by Vicki Tobias, WiLS/Recollection Wisconsin

Public libraries across Wisconsin collect and preserve some truly magnificent materials that document their community’s history. Unlike books and other library resources, these collections typically cannot be checked out, limiting access only to on-site, in-person patrons. Digitizing and sharing resources online significantly improve public use of these one-of-a-kind collections. For libraries that lack time or resources to set up their own digitization work environment, circulating scanning kits from the South Central Library System (SCLS) are a proverbial game-changer, making it easier and faster to do this valuable work.

Funded as part of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s WISELearn program, 20 scanning kits were distributed to Wisconsin library systems for use among their member libraries. The kits include a flatbed scanner, a laptop and other key equipment necessary to digitize photographic prints, slides and historic documents.

With training and assistance from SCLS and Recollection Wisconsin, several libraries have already completed local history digitization projects using the kits. Two recent projects that showcase educational institutions in Wisconsin were completed by Milton Public Library and Pauline Haass Public Library (Sussex). Milton Public Library collaborated with the Milton College Preservation Society to digitize historic photographs of the library and Milton College, which closed in 1982. The Pauline Haass Public Library Historic Digital Collection currently features yearbooks with plans this year to add newsletters and memorabilia from local schools.

Milton College classroom
Image ID: MPL_MiltonCollege_034
Title/Caption: Milton College classroom.
Source: Milton Public Library

A survey of recent scanning kit users revealed overwhelming support for the kits, as they offer library staff learning opportunities while building digital collections. Survey respondents unanimously indicated an increase in confidence and skills to complete future digitization projects using the kits and, likewise, acknowledged the time and resource savings benefit for their organizations.

“The kits provided all the resources necessary to successfully achieve our digitization project.” Ashlee Kunkel, Milton Public Library Director

Collections digitized using these scanning kits are publicly available online through Recollection Wisconsin and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

Visit Recollection Wisconsin for detailed information about the kits including digitization workflows, templates and other resources. Libraries interested in reserving a scanning kit may contact their library system for more information.



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