From lumber yard logs to family scrapbooks, the Kalona Public Library and Historical Village is working with the University of Iowa School of Library & Information Sciences (SLIS) to archive Kalona’s history.
SLIS was awarded a grant of just under $23,000 to have a graduate student archive photos and documents from the Historical Village and the library, and give training and outreach opportunities to the community on how to digitize their documents. Graduate student Laura Michelson has digitized over 1000 images in the last couple months, “I think it’s invaluable where even if you have a historian come visit a place and they write a book you only get one aspect of a community. And by digitizing and saving this history you can see how people really thought of Kalona and what their lives were like, and I think that that’s how we really see history, so I’m fascinated by it.”
Library Director Anne Skaden says having this program has sped up the progress on digitizing documents for the Iowa Heritage Digital Collections, where hundreds of Kalona images can be accessed online. Skaden talks about the collection, “It’s hard for people to go to areas if they’re doing genealogy, if they’re looking for the history of their ancestors who grew up in Kalona or came and settled in Kalona. And this way they can look online, we’ve got it saved, we’ve got it archived, we’ve got it indexed, and it makes it much easier than just going through a lot of random papers.”
Michelson is interested in setting up one-on-one sessions with Kalona residents who would like to scan photos and documents. She and the library are planning on having a community scan day in the spring.