February 4, 2020
For 40 years, local historians documented Ventura County’s past — the people, places and events that make the area what it is.
Now, a state grant will allow the Museum of Ventura County to digitize their work from 1955 to 1995, making it available sometime this spring to anyone with internet access. The 160 issues of the “Ventura County Historical Society Quarterly Journal” have only been available in the rare hard copy.
“Many of these are first-person accounts, and those get lost over time,” said Deya Terrafranca, the museum’s research librarian and archives director. “The first issue came out in 1955. Those early copies are dwindling. They’re hard to find.”
Terrafranca estimated the value of the California Revealed grant at about $3,500, which covers the cost to convert the hundreds of journal pages to digital documents. The grant is an initiative of the California State Library, which receives federal funding.
The documents will be available on the California Revealed website and eventually on the museum’s research library and archives website. “Access to information is so important,” Terrafranca said. “That’s the key, I think, to a democratic system.”
Terrafranca described the state’s effort to digitize documents as a “really cool project.” Smaller institutions and collections can be nominated for California Revealed and make their collections available to a broader audience, she said.
“It helps anyone and everyone get things online and accessible,” Terrafranca said.
Pamela Vadakan, director of California Revealed, said this year the program funded about 20 projects but has provided funding for up to 100 in years past. Grants vary widely in range depending on the project, but at least one was as much as $20,000.
She said Ventura County’s journals cover California mission history and Native American populations in early California, topics that are underrepresented.
“There’s just whole swaths of the state that we’re missing,” Vadakan said. “That includes the coasts.”
The 10-year-old state program started digitizing video and audio first to ensure preservation of aging materials and run on increasingly outdated equipment. In recent years, California Revealed has broadened its grants to paper-based materials like the museum’s journals, maps and photographs.
California Revealed is hoping to reach areas less represented in the state’s archives.
Terrafranca said digitizing the museum’s journal collection is part of the nonprofit’s greater effort to be more relevant to the community.
In 2017, the museum was on the brink of closure and its leaders identified six areas, including making its collection more accessible, as ways to reinvent itself.
Terrafranca said the journal project and another recent effort – in collaboration with students from CSU Channel Islands—to digitize the museum’s vast photo collection aim to fulfill that accessibility.
“We really feel strongly that we need to be the institution, the historical resource the community desires,” she said. “We need our collections available online so people can access them anytime and anywhere.”
The museum librarian said ultimately information drives creativity. She hopes the community will find inspiration in the stories from the past.
For more information about California Revealed, visit https://californiarevealed.org. For more on the museum, go to https://venturamuseum.org.
Read the full article at VCStar.com.
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