His­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety gets dig­i­tal scan­ner

His­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety’s dig­i­tal dream comes true

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By SARAH FALLIN sfallin@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @CalRecSARAH

Leila Boyer, di­rec­tor of the Calvert County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, begged and pleaded for years and fi­nally, ear­lier this year, her dream came true for the Calvert County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety to have a scan­ner with the abil­ity to dig­i­tize the many vol­umes of old news­pa­pers in its col­lec­tion.

A to­tal of $40,000 was needed for the scan­ner, and over the years, $20,000 was raised to­ward the cost. The rest came from the so­ci­ety’s en­dow­ment. The $20,000 was raised piece­meal, which Boyer said “is huge for a small his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety.”

Boyer ad­mit­ted with a chuckle that a good deal of beg­ging and guilt went into rais­ing that mo­men­tous $20,000.

“It’s one of those things that makes you want to weep, peo­ple care so much,” Boyer said of the fundrais­ing ef­forts. His­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety mem­bers and lo­cal busi­nesses all chipped in to make the dream a re­al­ity.

Now, vol­un­teers are chip­ping in to tackle an­other mon­u­men­tal task: scan­ning in the thou­sands of pages of both The Calvert Recorder/Prince Fred­er­ick Recorder and the former Calvert In­de­pen­dent.

Vol­un­teer Lau­rel Kirk­man started vol­un­teer­ing with the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety when she moved to Calvert County in 2014. She was the one tasked with fig­ur­ing out the tech­ni­cal side of things and getting the scan­ner up and run­ning, with a back­ground in IT. The his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety got the equip­ment in Jan­uary but it took a few months be­fore it was ready to get into ac­tion.

It takes about four hours to scan through all the pages of one of the many bound vol­umes of news­pa­pers. Then, each page’s file has to be straight­ened out in­di­vid­u­ally in the soft­ware. De­spite the te­dious­ness, Boyer said the process is going more quickly than she thought it would.

The vol­un­teers have al­most com­pleted the first decade’s worth of vol­umes from the Calvert In­de­pen­dent in the 1940s and 1950s. It’s an in­ter­est­ing era to see all the pages, as the coun­try was in the midst of World War II. There weren’t any crossword puz­zles in the pa­pers un­til af­ter the war, for ex­am­ple. The news­pa­pers back then in­cluded things like cro­chet pat­terns and se­rial fic­tional stories.

“It’s an in­ter­est­ing so­ci­o­log­i­cal study,” Boyer said.

Unlike nor­mal scan­ners, this one doesn’t re­quire a book to be opened and flipped so the pages lay on a glass sur­face. In­stead, it scans from above. There’s no lid to close like on a scan­ner or copier. This is cru­cial to scan­ning frag­ile his­tor­i­cal vol­umes. And, the sur­face of the scan­ner is large enough to han­dle the large pages of a news­pa­per.

An­other ap­peal of the scan­ner is that it of­fers the abil­ity to search key­words, rather than going through is­sues upon is­sues of news­pa­pers like what is done on mi­cro­fiche.

A his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety mem­ber was even able to bring in a black and white framed his­tor­i­cal pho­to­graph of Broomes Is­land and the scan­ner was able to scan it, with the glass on, and the re­pro­duc­tion doesn’t show signs of it at all.

“An amaz­ing amount of gen­eros­ity went into this thing,” Boyer said.

STAFF PHOTOS BY SARAH FALLIN

Vol­un­teer Lau­rel Kirk­man scans news­pa­per pages with the Calvert County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety’s new scan­ner.

The scan­ner pro­vides the abil­ity to view and search with key­words high-qual­ity dig­i­tal images of news­pa­per pages.

Leila Boyer flips through a vol­ume of old news­pa­pers.

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