I published my first professional article in the Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 11:107-114, 2011 (woohoo!) detailing our pilot project to digitize hospital archives. In May 2009, I suggested to my director that we might look into creating an online archive of our historical materials. Our primary purpose was to enhance the usefulness of this memorabilia. We saw this as a way to expand our function within our institution and the communities that we serve.
By October 2009, our images were displayed as part of Digital Treasures, a shared digital repository focusing on the cultural history of Central and Western Massachusetts. I created a poster for MLA 2010 Washington, DC entitled “Reflecting on Our History: Digitizing Materials for Hospital Archives.” During that poster session, I met several librarians who were working on digitization projects. I learned that many of the issues we encountered were shared. I am pleased that these ladies agreed to participate in my article-making. A shout out to Molly Knapp (LSU-HSC), Elaine Skopelja (IU School of Medicine) and Ann Pederson (Altru Health System)!
The future of digital archives is undeniable. People expect items to be available online. As digital archives become more familiar, hospitals may expand their expectations of librarians as archivists of a digitized local medical history. These items are useful for establishing the institution as an integral part of community history and of medical practice. Some librarians reported being contacted by people interested in exploring their family history. Nursing school graduation pictures and documents detailing hospital staff could have a broad appeal.
If you would like to read my article, it is available for subscribers. Or, at Taylor and Francis Online non-subscribers can pay $34 (haha…I don’t expect you to!) I’m allowed to share copies with some colleagues, but not on a systematic basis. Copyright.