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Gananoque museum preserving history digitally

By: Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The 1000 Islands History Museum has announced that work has begun on the Gananoque Archive Collection Project.

The project’s current focus is making digital copies from the town’s history, including photographs and other archival material, with hopes that by digitizing the collection it will make it more accessible to the public.

“And also to preserve it for future generations so there’s a copy out there in case anything happened to the physical medium,” said Zane Smith, civic collection co-ordinator at the 1000 Islands History Museum.

The Gananoque museum received a grant through Library and Archives Canada’s Documentary Heritage Communities Program to create digital copies of the archival collection, like documents and photographic material, to help preserve it for the future generations to look at and making it more accessible for the present day.

Smith explained that they’ll be preserving pretty much all the archival material that the museum has, but this year the project is focusing on the 2D material like photographs, postcards, letters and official documents, rather than books or multi-page documents at this current stage.

“This project is really important because there is a lot of archival material in the Gananoque Civic Collection and it hasn’t gotten a lot of attention in the past,” said Smith.

“Over the past few years we’ve been improving the preservation standards but this project really helped us take a leap forward in preserving that documentary of heritage and history for future generations, which is the main functions of museums,” he added.

The project started in early April but the museum has just recently began the work of digitizing.

“The beginning phase of the project was acquiring all the necessary hardware,” said Smith, who explained that they didn’t have the proper scanners or computers at the storage facility to begin the process until lately.

The early months of the project where spent doing physical preservation of some of the archival documents and properly storing them.

“Now we’re moving into the digitalization side of the project,” said Smith.

The museum in just a couple of short weeks already digitized almost 200 pieces from the archival collection and is on the road to finish the project by the end of next March.

Once the history of the town is preserved as digital copies, it will be used in different functions of the museum, including public programing and exhibitions.

Because the project is still relatively new, the museum doesn’t know whether or not the archived collection will be available for public access on a website this year but the end goal over the next couple of years is to make the collection accessible online in some way, to make it easier for the public to engage with the history of the town.

“Rather than having all these archival items staying in storage and never seeing the light of day,” said Smith.

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