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K-State Today

October 20, 2021

K-State Libraries ramp up digitization efforts with the Butler Digitization Lab

Submitted by Cailin Riley

After a vigorous planning process in 2020 and the arrival of special equipment to the newly renovated Hale Library, the Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collocations has started scanning materials in the Butler Digitization Lab.

The lab, which was made possible through a gift from the Butler Family Community Foundation, will allow Special Collections to digitize materials from existing collections to make them accessible online for researchers around the world. Staff will also steward born-digital materials, such as floppy disks, hard drives and emails, to ensure that they are made available for researchers.

"Before this lab became available, the only option for researchers wishing to access most of our archival collections was to visit the archives in person," said Irina Rogova, digital resources archivist. "The process of digitizing physical collections means that eventually, there will be an online platform for people to use to view materials online. That means that anyone, anywhere in the world, can explore our archives whenever they like!"

The lab is currently scanning historic photographs from the university archives. Special Collections hopes to have a new online platform ready in 2022 where the photos and other materials can be viewed.

While still in its early stages, the Butler Digitization Lab will allow for more inclusive growth of archival materials, with an ability to focus on collecting the records of individuals and groups that have previously been left out of the archives. By using practices such as oral history and postcustodial archiving, digital methods open archiving up to a wider audience of stakeholders.

A recent success of digitization efforts by Special Collections includes the manuscript cookbook project. Staff uploaded images of historic manuscripts to From the Page, an online platform that allows users from the community and beyond to help transcribe and translate the material. To date, more than 30 cookbooks have been uploaded to the platform and 21 have been fully transcribed.

You can visit the Butler Digitization Lab in person during American Archives Month by registering for a tour of the Morse Department of Special Collections on Thursday, Oct. 28. Inquiries about the Butler Digitization Lab can be directed to libsc@k-state.edu

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