EBSCO Contributes to Local University’s Digital Preservation Efforts

News | | August 15, 2017

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Recently, EBSCO donated digital scanners to University of Massachusetts, Lowell. George Hart, director of libraries at UMass Lowell, talks about their impact.

How did the donation of these scanners come about?

Last summer, EBSCO conducted a re-indexing, a 'mulligan', of our entire database content library, a total as of mid-2017 of 600 million articles. Over the course of conversations and a visit to EBSCO’s headquarters in Ipswich, EBSCO's Amy Thurlow mentioned there were some scanners available for donation.

How has the donation impacted the Library & Academic Technology Lab?

Before the donation, there was no Library & Academic Technology Lab. When we realized that EBSCO's donation would create the best digital humanities lab north of Boston, it became obvious that we would need an appropriate space. EBSCO donated the funds to remove the first wall. Our Honors College then provided funding to remove the remaining walls, resulting in a very large and prominent Library & Academic Technology Lab overlooking the most public and high-traffic point in the library. We have six scanners, including a Kirtas book scanner and a large format map and newspaper scanner, with workspace for four additional professionals and 30 student workers.

Before the donation, there was no Library & Academic Technology Lab.

What is the goal of the lab?

The goal of our new Library & Academic Technology Lab is to bring together librarians, instructional designers, students, our visiting library faculty-in-residence, our digital humanities faculty, our grant-supported archivist, our partner at the Thoreau Institute, and our partners from collaborating institutions in the Massachusetts system of higher education. The new Lab provides the tools, work space, support, and the collaboration needed to successfully complete a constantly expanding array of new projects.

How will this impact the library and digital preservation efforts?

The Library & Academic Technology Lab supports faculty scholarship, as many professors are involved in digital humanities projects of all kinds. Our incredibly rich collection in the University's Center for Lowell History, with 8,000 square feet of archival records, will provide years of engaging projects for students as they make these historical treasures available on the Internet. 

What is the initial project? Plans for the future?

Initial projects include the Southeast Asian Digital Archives, funded by $239,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities, our Honors College faculty and their work with the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, and the recently acquired records of the Saco-Lowell Corporation, once one of America's largest textile machine manufacturers.


Digital scanners provided to UMass Lowell from EBSCO

How will this impact students?

The lab area includes workspace for 30 student workers. Our Honors College funds dozens of library fellows who digitize and curate special collections from the archives. The new Lab allows us to expand the role of our work-study students, as they take on the task of making our special collections freely available online.

Can you describe the size of the collection you are digitizing and how it will be used/made available?

We have an 8,000 square foot, dedicated archive located in one of the restored boardinghouses in the Lowell National Historical Park. Only a small fraction of these records have been digitized. In addition, the Lowell Historical Society has extensive collections in the Boott Mills complex in the Park that can be digitized and shared. As our lab swings into action, we will work with the City of Lowell and the city's many religious congregations and corporate and civic groups.

What kind of documents are part of this collection?

Archival collections range from 18th century church records to recent runs of Cambodian newspapers published in Lowell. Our library houses many of the volumes from the William Ernest Hocking rare book collection, including works with marginalia notes written by William James; we hope these will be among the first volumes we scan.

EBSCO has been digitizing historical archives for more than 10 years, providing researchers at colleges and universities around the world with 24/7 digital access to unique and rare content. The content ranges from the largest collection of North-American read and/or published periodicals from 1684 to 1912 to rare African American serials from 1829 to 1922, from personal manuscript collections from Hispanic Latino American civil rights leaders and activists to military journals from colonial United States and manuscripts from Civil War-related individuals and organizations.

To learn more about the historical digital and magazine archives provided by EBSCO Information Services, visit our website at: https://www.ebscohost.com/archives

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