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Library digitizes high school yearbooks

Thursday, October 17, 2013 | 6:03 p.m. CDT; updated 7:47 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 17, 2013

COLUMBIA—When Nina Sappington fielded a call from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections about scanning files or books to create digital files, she wasn't sure whether the Daniel Boone Regional Library needed the service.

But after multiple conversations, the public services librarian agreed to send a shipment of Hickman high school yearbooks to Oklahoma Correctional Industries for inmates to scan as part of a work program that reached out to libraries with a free offer to kick-start its new records conversion business.

With the help of the library's web developer, Eric Watkins, the cover-to-cover scans of almost a century of yearbooks for Hickman High are available online at the library's Google Plus page. Users can use the library's reference page for easier access to a specific year's yearbook.

In early September, the set of six boxes came back in the same condition they were sent along with a 2-inch thick envelope filled with 20 DVD scans of the yearbooks.

"All of those boxes were more than 200 pounds," Sappington said. "We were lugging those boxes around for years and making indexes, now it's just a 1-pound packet."

The 40 GB worth of scans are hosted on Google Plus because the library's server was not large enough to fit the thousands of photos in a high enough resolution to be readable.

"Now the yearbooks are available 24/7 anywhere and you don't have to ask to print pictures or even to look at the books," Sappington said. "If you want to look someone up at 10 o'clock at night, you can."

The yearbooks are stored in an office in the library where patrons would have to ask to have access to them. This has been the case for more than 15 years because the library used to have issues with patrons vandalizing the yearbooks, Sappington said.

"This system will be better for people that want old pictures for genealogy projects, they can just print them out and won't try to cut them out," Sappington said. "It's also good for patrons not in Missouri or not close around that want access to them."

The library has 92 of the 101 yearbooks from Hickman scanned. Sappington hopes that patrons may have old yearbooks that they would lend to have scanned for the website. The missing yearbooks are: 1912, 1914, 1917, 1919, 1920, 1923, 1924, 1925 and 2010.

The yearbooks for Hickman are organized under both Hickman High School and Columbia High School because Hickman was named Columbia until 1927 when the school moved to its current location.

"The old yearbooks are in delicate shape, they're 100 years old, they aren't getting any better. There will be a time when the paper gets brittle and we can't handle them anymore, but now we've saved those old ones," Sappington said. "The preservation is remarkable."

The next group of yearbooks for Rock Bridge and Douglass high schools were sent out this week, and are expected to take four weeks to be completed. After those, Sappington is interested in working with other high schools in the region to get their yearbooks scanned.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.


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