“Digitization” is a big word that’s a mouthful to say. It sounds a little scary to some, but it’s really just a great way to preserve items. It’s also a vital part of what we do at the Willennar Genealogy Center.
Digitization is taking something physical and making a digital file of it to preserve it. We digitize photographs and documents at the Willennar Genealogy Center by scanning them on a flatbed scanner. This photo shows Chris, who works at the Willennar Genealogy Center, scanning an item on a flatbed scanner.
Then, so that everybody can see them, we put them into a collection management program called PastPerfect. We add some information about them (called “metadata”), and then we put them on the internet.
The finished project is our Photo Database, which you can see by clicking here. See if you can find a photograph of a family member or historic place in DeKalb County!
Lots of institutions digitize items in their collection in order to preserve them. But you don’t have to be a library, museum or archive to jump on the digitization bandwagon! Anybody can digitize their treasures. In fact, it’s a great way to keep family photographs and documents safe while still using them for research or enjoyment.
It makes sense to buy digitization equipment if you’re going to be doing a lot of digitizing. Some scanners, like wand scanners, are pretty cheap and easy to use. But if you have just one digitization project, or if you want to try out the technology, the Willennar Genealogy Center can help you!
Book the Digital Lab is a relatively new program at the Willennar Genealogy Center that allows people to use the same equipment the professionals use to work on their own digitization projects. You can book an hour-long slot on Wednesday evenings at 5:30 or 6:30 p.m. or Thursday afternoons at 1 or 2 p.m. A Willennar Genealogy Center employee will guide you through the process of scanning and saving your files, then let you use the equipment to do your work at your own pace. We do ask that Book the Digital Lab attendees bring their own thumb drive, external hard drive or other way to save your work, as it cannot be stored for you on our computers or server.
As a Book the Digital Lab attendee, you also have the opportunity to help the Willennar Genealogy Center grow its collection! It’s totally optional, but if you want to donate your digital files of photographs or documents for our collection and have them on our online database, just let us know!
To sign up for Book the Digital Lab or to find out more about digitization, call the Willennar Genealogy Center at 260-925-2414 ext. 420 or stop in during our regular hours!