If you’re a reader of a certain age, you’ll remember when libraries and other research facilities relied heavily on card catalogs and reference librarians to help patrons locate materials.
Similarly, if you have visited the LCHS Centennial Annex in the last thirty years to research any variety of topics, you will also be familiar with the card catalog. Our 36 drawer filing system has been in place since the 1970’s. Approximately 32,000 individual cards have been manually indexed, referencing our extensive document collection, maps, oral histories, and library of books. (Our sizable collection of photos possesses its own separate filing system.) The card catalog has been an essential tool for more than three decades, and now it is getting makeover so that it might continue to serve our needs for decades to come.
In September of 2013, the Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS) awarded LCHS a Community Assistance Grant of $2,500 to jump-start the conversion of our hard copy catalog into a searchable digital record. The official name of our mission is the Digital Bridge Project.
For the past several months, Taylor Howell, a student at the University of Idaho, has been working feverishly to complete the work hours provided by the ISHS grant in time for a May deadline. Taylor moves through each drawer, picking through the cards to locate information from a certain collection. The information on each card is entered into our database, called PastPerfect. There it will be available in an easily searchable format.
He is assisted by LCHS Museum Aide, Hannah Crawford. Together, they have worked through the cards indexing pamphlets, and nearly all of the small collections. During the execution of the grant project, volunteers Lynne McCreight and LeNelle McInturff have been instrumental in resolving discrepancies between entries in the database and the card catalog. We hope to have the Digital Bridge Project completed by December 2014.
We are excited to share with you our first steps on the Digital Bridge Project, and the foundation of a usable online catalog. We hope to make this resource available to our patrons as soon as possible. Please stay tuned for the completion of this exciting project!
We extend a very special thank you to the Idaho State Historical Society for the generous grant, which has allowed us to tackle this project. The Digital Bridge undoubtedly benefits both our staff and visiting researchers because it provides a comprehensive digital catalog that can be keyword searched for easy identification of relevant material. As we strive to be of continued service to our community and to integrate modern technology with our rich historical collections, we rely on the support of the State Historical Society.