The Library team is not simply scanning and storing the materials. They need to ingest them, said Pope. No one is down in Frost eating old Olio yearbooks; “ingesting” refers to the process of indexing and otherwise making the scanned material searchable.
Students and staff have been at work coming up with metadata for the materials—basically embedded search terms that allow readers to pinpoint topics.
“There’s a whole international standard on this, that our metadata librarians follow, and they’re all very highly trained,” Pope said. “They read everything. They literally read every letter.”
Some collections are fairly easy to ingest, while others, such as the letters of Frederick Brewster Loomis, take more time.
Plans are underway to have the digital collection accessible via a new platform in time for the Bicentennial.
“Our hope is that if you’re coming and saying, ‘I graduated in 1987,’ we will be able to point you to The Amherst Student [newspaper or] some college photographer records that show pictures of perhaps you and your fellow students,” Pope said. “We could point you at your college catalog … or your commencement program and also the reports to secondary schools.”
“The hope is that you can go into these things, and if you’re an alum, find your own story in there, but also have a lot of different voices surface,” she said.