Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Learn About the State Library's Scanning Projects

An ongoing initiative at the State Library is the digitization of historic Massachusetts state documents. Small collections tend to be digitized in-house using state-of-the-art scanners, while larger projects are sent to the Boston Public Library’s scanning center. So far, the State Library has digitized around 1000 items, and that number increases daily.

The in-house scanning projects include the Legislative Biographical File, which contains information about members of the Massachusetts General Court and its predecessors, Massachusetts constitutional officers, and members of Massachusetts constitutional conventions from the colonial period to date. Also being scanned at the State Library is a collection of photographs of World War I soldiers from New England and the Zimmer Newspaper Index, which is a card index to "current events" from 1878-1937 for use by Massachusetts legislators and the public. The Zimmer Index was created as a result of the “Act to Authorize the Preparation for the State Library of an Index of Current Events," passed by the Massachusetts legislature in 1892.

Larger scanning projects, such as the journals of the House and the Senate, are sent to the scanning center at the Boston Public Library’s Central Library in Copley Square. Some items from a grant-funded scanning project are also being sent to the BPL; this project involves a collection of nineteenth-century transportation materials, including photographs, maps, atlases, annual reports, and manuscripts.

Digitized items are preserved both in the Internet Archive and the State Library’s online institutional repository, known as DSpace. The Internet Archive also includes other Massachusetts-related documents, such as town and regional histories, which have been scanned by other institutions.

- State Library Staff