Digitization projects expand access to Atlanta Museum resources

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[January 19, 2017]  ATLANTA - The Atlanta Museum recently completed two digitization projects designed to provide its patrons and the general public with easier and better access to its historical resources. The projects include digitization of the Museum’s entire collection of Atlanta Argus newspapers, as well as digitization of the Museum’s collection of “Atalanta” yearbooks from The Atlanta High School. These collections are used frequently, but were previously only accessible if a patron visited the Atlanta Museum and accessed them on site.

The Atlanta Argus collection includes copies of the town’s newspapers from 1869 through 1983. Prior to the digitization project, the Argus was accessible via bound, printed copies and/or microfilm. The latter were actually removed from public access a number of years ago, due to the fragile condition of these original copies of the newspapers. While the microfilm copies of the Argus were still available, this medium had its drawbacks too. Many portions of the microfilm were difficult to read and it was not possible to search the microfilm via keywords. If a patron wanted to find a news article about a particular person or event, it required searching/reading through each page of the newspaper.

Thanks to work done by Advantage Preservation, located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the complete Atlanta Argus newspaper collection can now be accessed online. Better still, keyword searches are possible, which result in links to each page of the Argus where the keyword appears. Searches can be made per whatever month, year, or range of years desired. Once a keyword is found, a link is provided to a copy of the Argus page where it appears. The program even highlights the keywords on those individual pages, making it easy to quickly locate the specific news article in which the word is found.

Individual Argus pages can then be downloaded onto a user’s computer and/or printed so the user has a hard copy. Funds to carry out digitization of the Atlanta Museum’s Argus newspaper collection were provided by a grant received from The Woods Foundation. The library is grateful for this financial support, without which the project would not have been possible.

The Atlanta Museum’s collection of Atlanta High School yearbooks is also now accessible online, thanks to assistance from a somewhat unlikely source: the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and its Oklahoma Correctional Industries [OCI] program. Several months ago, the Museum discovered the OCI program, which employs over 1,200 offenders serving sentences in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. OCI produces over 5,000 products ranging from furniture to steel products to services such as its yearbook digitization program. The yearbook digitization project is provided at no cost to public libraries. Museum patrons and the general public can now access copies of each AHS Atlanta yearbook, from 1919 through 1972.

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To access both the Argus and the Atlanta online collections, simply go to the Atlanta Public Library website [http://www.atlantapld.org/] and click the links on the homepage beneath the “Explore Our Digital Archives” section.

Staff at the Atlanta Public Library and Museum have received training in how to access and use both the Argus and AHS Atlanta digital archive collections, so stop by and check out these new resources – or simply access them from the comfort of your own home. In addition, watch for announcements on the Library’s website and Facebook regarding training sessions that will be offered at the Library for anyone interested in learning how to access and use the Argus and AHS Atlanta digital archive collections.

The mission of the Atlanta Public Library is to improve the quality of life of its patrons by expanding their horizons, meeting their learning needs, and enhancing their interests in meaningful and entertaining ways. The mission of the Atlanta Museum is to improve the quality of life of its patrons by helping them gain a better sense of their individual and our community’s identity, through exhibits and programs designed to develop historical habits of mind.

[Bill Thomas]


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