Iowa State University Library’s collection of the Iowa County Histories is a popular publication for persons researching the history of Iowa and especially for persons doing genealogy research. Most of our collection was published in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. These books were published on acidic paper and have received much use over the years. This has brought about a slow deterioration to these important books.
In May of 2001, we began the process of reformatting the volumes into bound volumes printed on permanent paper. These new volumes were placed in the General Collection for use by our patrons. The original copies were boxed to help hold them in their current condition and they were placed in our library storage building.
As we progressed with this project, the use of the internet for reading and doing research grew, and we realized that having the Iowa County Histories available online would be a valuable asset for our collection. We returned to the boxed, original copies and sent them to our vendor to be scanned into TIFF files and converted to searchable PDFs.
Throughout these processes, we have used student workers to go through the volumes and check to be sure the publications are complete and in good condition. Upon receipt of the CDs from our vendor, the student compares the CD with the paper copy. Once it has been determined that the files are complete, the discs are passed on to our Digital Initiatives Unit to have the files added to our library’s Digital Collections. Iowa county histories written by the Iowa Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration have also been recently added to the online Iowa County Histories collection.
This has been a long and time-consuming project, but one which we feel will be a real benefit to the patrons wishing to use our Iowa County Histories, whether it is with the use of a good paper copy or the digital copy online.