BY: ELISE SVOBODA
History of Eastern is at the fingertips for all to access because The Eastern Progress and The Milestone are now becoming available online through the Special Archives digitalization project.
Jackie Couture, university records officer and digital archives specialist, said the project will help students with research projects by making the historical documents of Eastern’s easier to acquire. The school’s past newspaper and yearbook issues are being converted to a digital form for students and others to access online.
“We have been wanting to do this for a while and after we get Milestone done and it was such a success, we thought we would start The Eastern Progress,” Couture said.
Couture said The Milestone was digitalized in 2011 after a grant from LYRASIS to get the project started. The non-profit collaborative organization LYRASIS is designed to support libraries’ efforts to expand resources.
“It was a very inexpensive cost, so we put together a proposal, and we took it to the dean and asked if we could outsource to this company to digitalize The Milestone,” Couture said.
Once the dean approved the digitalizing project, Couture said, The Milestone could be published online.
Couture said The Milestone, along with other pieces of Eastern history like early course catalogs, are published online to provide ease of access to Eastern’s history.
Kari Martin, director of library advancement, said the project finances have allowed digital catalogs up to the year 1976. This year alone the library will have more than five years worth of history for all to read.
“Our goal is to have, by the end of this calendar year, all the way up to between 2005 and 2009,” Martin said.
However, not every year of Eastern’s past will be digitalized because a lack of hard copies for The Progress and Milestone.
“There were some in the early years and some years we just didn’t have papers for some reason or another there were never kept, never collected, so we are missing some in the early years,” Couture said.
Couture said there weren’t any more projects in mind following this one, but requests are being taken for people who want to see specific things digitalized.
“We digitalize photographs when people request copies of photographs,” Couture said. “We digitalize our manuscript collection. An alum recently asked for his commencement program from the year he graduated. We’re digitizing that for him.”
Martin said she thinks the most exciting feature about the project is the opportunity to learn from the past.
“I really believe that Eastern has an amazing story to tell and by keeping it buried in the special collections and archives access is limited,” Martin said. “Our goal as libraries is to increase access. We want things to be found, we want things to be discovered, and we want the information to be enjoyed and benefited from.”
To view the digitized documents, visit www.archive.eku.edu or contact the special collections and archives department at 622-1792.