Digitizing CMA History One Negative at a Time

Submitted by Leslie Cade on

The Ingalls Library and Museum Archives makes its rare and unique items and collections accessible to a global audience in digital format. Susan Hernandez, Digital Archivist and Systems Librarian, leads the team of archivists and librarians who recommend and prioritize projects; and the staff, interns, and volunteers who carry out the work. With the archives for nearly ten years, Susan’s work also includes managing the institution’s electronic records and the integrated library system that is the backbone for discovery.

One of the ongoing projects Susan manages is the digitization of historical images. The archives includes a collection of over 120,000 photographic negatives in a variety of sizes and formats documenting museum exhibitions, events, buildings, art objects, and people from 1914 to the early 2000s. An important asset for the institution, a portion of the collection was prioritized for digitization and can be found on the digital collections web page. Susan’s team worked together to make the many choices necessary to ensure a successful project. A cost-benefit analysis regarding technical specifications, scanning procedures, metadata collection, and access systems resulted in the decision to strive for an approach that makes the most efficient use of available resources while providing access to over a century of visual resources. Susan documented the details of the project in the summer 2018 issue of the Journal of Digital Media Management.