Information Update - Spring 2014

Clippings Collection: 100 Years of University of Scranton News

univscrapbook Much attention has been drawn recently to the emerging discipline of digital humanities and particularly to its exciting applications for scholarship in history. For example, the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab recently released a beautifully interactive web version of Charles OPaullin’s 1932 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States that allows viewers not only to look at old maps but to explore and manipulate them. Another Richmond project, Visualizing Emancipation, fosters new understanding of the end of slavery by plotting an enormous set of data points, representing emancipation events, on maps and timelines. These kinds of projects demonstrate a growing need among digital humanities scholars for access to archival and special collections materials that they cannot simply see and view but use; that is, as one humanities scholar explained, “The easier objects are to repurpose, remix and reuse the better.”
 
The Weinberg Memorial Library’s Digital Services Department has been digitizing archival and special collections materials since 2008 in an effort to increase access to rare and unique documents. Last year, in preparation for the University’s 125th anniversary, we digitized 97 oversized scrapbooks filled with newspaper clippings about the University that were hiding in our basement.
 
Digitization itself was an enormous undertaking. There was an immense variety of materials inside the books – some were dedicated to academics, others to athletics and alumni – dated from as early as the 1890s to as recent as the 1980s. Some of the scrapbooks were in good shape, while others were falling apart. Many had loose clippings and disordered pages, and some pages seemed to have been stuck into the wrong scrapbook throughout the years. But the most troublesome aspect of the project has simply been its scale: all combined, the 97 scrapbooks had almost 16,000 pages. When digitized, those pages produced just short of a terabyte of digital images – nearly doubling the size of our digital repository
 
Digitization is only the first step in collection building, however. What we’re working on now is processing and cataloging the digitized images to make them easy to browse and search. With digital humanities scholarship in mind, we’re turning what was a disorganized pile of scrapbooks into a database, transforming clippings into data points that can be searched but also manipulated by date, location, subject and publication.
 
This is a highly labor-intensive process, but thankfully I’ve had quite a bit of help – a team of 17 library faculty, staff and student workers has pitched in from five different Library departments (Digital Services, Special Collections, Systems, Technical Services and Administration). I’ve been especially grateful to have the assistance of David Hunisch, who moved upstairs from the Circulation Department this fall into a new position as digital services assistant, as well as two extraordinary student workers, April Francia ‘15 and Justin Goreschak ‘15.
 
We’ve had some lovely finds along the way. Among our favorites are the many photographs of legendary professor Dr. Bill Parente. With our new Reilly Learning Commons having opened up on the first floor, we were also thrilled to find a few articles about sisters Evelyn Reilly ’52 and Katharine Reilly ’53, who were among the earliest University of Scranton alumnae. (Women were first admitted into the Evening School in 1938, but the University did not become fully coeducational until 1972.)
 
While we’re only about a third of the way done, our new University of Scranton Clippings Collection (scranton.edu/library/clippings) already holds 15,000+ articles from the 28 scrapbooks completed to date. Items in this collection are restricted to on-campus users only, but off-campus users can search and browse article records.
—Kristen Yarmey


Snapshots of several scrapbooks