Historical Squamish photos and documents go online 

Project awaiting word on next round of funding to carry on

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The Squamish Public Library is going back to the future.

Things old and valued are being made new again and forever to be preserved by library staff and volunteers through the process of digitizing historical pictures, text, audio and video.

Getting the materials published online is librarian Sanfu Chen's task. She started full-time with the library in Squamish in June armed with a Library and Information studies degree along with undergraduate studies in art history.

She will continue on the project until the middle of next month — but then the funding for this portion of the task runs out.

Chen will then move on to another job with Simon Fraser University's library.

But reference librarian Darby Love hopes the project will continue with a new grant and a new librarian — none of the current staff members are able to take on the project.

So far, the online archive holds 1,088 photos and 422 text items. A total of 40 collections from people, organizations and companies are available for viewing on the site and all the materials can be searched using names, subjects and places.

The materials Chen works with sometimes requires her to wear gloves and the historical documents the library holds are carefully stored in cardboard boxes within a temperature-controlled storage room.

Love and Chen, who both happen to be graduates of the library studies program at the University of Alberta, agree that the project could use help from anyone interested in correcting information that isn't accurate.

"People have been responding," says Chen. When errors are found and pointed out, Chen adds notes to the website updating the information with the original details.

She says the library also wants to hear from people who have additional information about photos and documents they see within the collection.

According to Chen, the library's newspaper archive dates back to 1948 and the entire collection is digitized. Some of it is published online and an ongoing effort is underway to get the entire newspaper archive available for the world to see.

"In some years we have a few of the issues missing but it's not a lot," says Chen.

Another challenge the project faces is the copyright attached to the newspapers published by the Squamish Times, the community's primary paper between the 1960s and the 90s.

The company that owned the paper doesn't exist anymore so while the library has verbal permission to use the archives of the Squamish Times there is no formal document making it clear so an application is in front of the copyright board seeking formal acknowledgement that the library can publish the newspaper archive online, says Chen.

Love says there are films and audio recordings yet to be digitized and published and those will be part of future phases of the ongoing initiative.

Many items in the library's digital collection are published on the Internet through the library's historical portal found at www.digitalcollections.ca/squamishlibrary.

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