If you follow us on Facebook, you’ll recall a few weeks ago that I teased some “big news” was forthcoming. Well, the wait is over, and we’re excited to announce that thanks to the efforts of the Digitization Projects Group, The Texas Collection and the office of Student Publications, the entire run of the Baylor University Lariat is now available online via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.
From the inaugural issue of November 8, 1900 to the present, users around the world can now access every issue of the Lariat from the comfort of their own homes. Issues from 1900 to 2006 are available in our Digital Collections, while issues from 2007-present are available from the Lariat’s website.
You may have seen some media coverage about this collection thanks to articles in the Lariat and the Waco Tribune Herald, but we wanted to give you some more information here, via our blog, about just what went into the creation of this major collection.
Planning and Process
The process began about three years ago with very early, test scans of bound volumes of the Lariat dating back to the early 1900s. We used our Zeutschel planetary scanner to handle the digitizing and found the process of manipulating bound volumes to be slow and cumbersome. With the addition of the Cruse large-format scanner – and permission from The Texas Collection’s director to unbind the volumes – we made much better progress. In fact, a skilled operator could digitize ten issues of the Lariat two pages at a time on the Cruse, a dramatic increase in efficiency that allowed us to complete the digitization of more than 11,000 issues of a newspaper collection in about a year and a half.
This staggering amount of content is the primary reason most universities choose to either avoid digitizing the full run of their campus newspaper or outsource the job to mass digitization companies. We chose to keep the process internal so as to avoid shipping irreplaceable copies of the Lariat off-site, as well as exercising full control of the metadata creation and collection curation process.
As with all of our digital collections, high-resolution preservation copies of the files were created and stored on our preservation server, and access-friendly PDFs of the issues were created and ingested into our CONTENTdm system. “Skeletal” metadata – basics like date, editor name and page count – were added to all items as they were ingested; later additions to the records include listing headlines for each issue, names of Lariat staff members, and the price per issue.
The Collection’s Impact
Digitizing a century’s worth of the campus newspaper was no small undertaking, and the decision to handle the process in-house from start to finish meant a significant investment in infrastructure, hardware and staff time. But none of those potential obstacles were significant enough to deter us from our goal of giving instant access to the wealth of information available in the pages of the Lariat. Now, scholars around the world can delve into the daily details of campus life, social commentary and world events as seen through the eyes of Baylor University’s student reporters.
Keyword searching makes the collection’s entry points as diverse as the English language. The ability to restrict a search to a single point in time – a year, a month, a decade – makes browsing from issue to issue not only manageable but enjoyable. The ability to zoom in on photos and paragraphs of text makes navigation and closer examination a breeze. And of course, access via the Internet makes it possible for everyone to use the collection, not just those with the ability to travel to the Baylor campus.
We look forward to seeing the ways our users dissect, synthesize and utilize the information in the Lariat collection. If you find something fascinating, earthshaking or downright bizarre in the thousands of pages therein, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about it. Who knows? We might even feature your find in a future blog post (with your permission, of course!).
The digital Lariat collection is available at www.baylor.edu/lib/lariats. The Digitization Projects Group, The Texas Collection and Student Publications collaborated to create this collection.