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Digitization of Local History Material

Digitization of Local History Material

DigitizationRochester Public Library owns a large and significant collection of regional history material dating back to the early 1800’s that serves as an important resource for students, educators, historians and genealogists. Much of the heavily utilized collection is in such fragile condition that portions are in danger of being damaged beyond recovery. In addition, the material has historically needed to be used on-site at the library, greatly limiting access to the information. Some of the material is not catalogued and therefore not listed in the Library’s database, making access even more difficult. 

The Library is in the process of digitizing aging materials include the library owned City and Suburban Directories, scrapbooks, yearbooks, maps, catalogs, Civil War and World War I materials and Library, City and County governance records. This material provides a unique window into Rochester’s history and overuse has contributed to the deterioration of the collection. The library is the victim of its own success. 

The primary focus of the digitization efforts by the Central Library have been to: 

  • Preserve with digitization approximately 1,000,000 pages of Library owned bound volumes within its local historical collection, utilizing the Kirtas APT Bookscan 1200 
  • Digitally preserve approximately 200 of Library owned maps, 50 manuscripts (average of 50 pages in each), approximately 100 scrapbooks (with 100 to 400 pages in each) within its valuable local historical collection, and 50 autographed letters (average of 5 pages each) of local importance, utilizing the Library’s flat-bed scanner. 
  • Increase the accessibility and usage of this material by placing the images on the Internet through the Library’s web site, thus making them easily available to the widest possible audience to enhance education and lifelong learning. The project will include adding to the catalog those digitized materials not yet in the library’s database. 

Digitization of the library’s collection of local material is replacing the physical use of the often fragile and over-handled original documents. The process allows the library to properly archive original material while making the digitized versions available for informational and reference use. Digitization also enables users to make copies of material, an option not currently available as the originals would not survive repeated photocopying. 

With the generous support of Gleason Foundation and individual donors, Rundel Library Foundation purchased a Kirtas APT Bookscan to digitize its bound (as well as that which can be temporarily bound) paper-based materials in the Library’s collection. The Kirtas Bookscan allows bound documents to be digitized at a fast rate and most importantly with great care and high quality, compensating for curvature, speckling and variations in brightness. 

The target population of this project is made up of historians, genealogists, students at the high school, college and graduate levels (often used for graduate thesis papers), educators at all levels, curators and archivists, government agencies, other local institutions (including the Susan B. Anthony House, Rochester Museum and Science Center, CGR, George Eastman House) and local newspapers. Additional funding will allow this project to continue and expand. 

To give a gift today, complete the Special Projects Donation Form (pdf) and mail to Rundel Library Foundation, email ndavis@libraryweb.org, or call (585) 428-8321 or (585) 428-8322.

Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County | 115 South Avenue | Rochester, NY 14604

For information about the Rochester Public Library (RPL) including hours, events & classes, locations, services, and collections, please visit RPL's new website: www.RocCityLibrary.org. RPL includes the Central Library in downtown and ten urban neighborhood branches.

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