The Benefits of Digitizing Yearbooks
Yearbooks are a window into the past of your community. More than any other material, they offer a snapshot of what life was like at a particular time or moment, on a local level. They open the door to a familiar past for individuals diving into genealogical research, or just reminiscing about their high school or college years.
Due to the popularity and value the community places on them, scanning yearbooks and making them available online has become one of the most sought after offerings by alums, libraries, schools, institutions, and organizations of all sizes.
Yearbooks are more than just a record of ambitions, activities, and questionable fashion. They have become a valuable resource for genealogists, local historical preservation societies, media outlets, and community cultural organizations. In addition, a community’s yearbooks offer a uniquely personal perspective on the past that other historical records often overlook or fail to capture.
Yearbooks can help researchers understand local and national events from the perspective of the youth at the time. They can also be used to understand the public sentiment on social issues at various times throughout the community’s history.
There are many reasons to digitize yearbooks, but we’d like to emphasize just a few:
Digitization serves as a backup that also happens to steal the spotlight. Life is full of unexpected events, and unfortunately, many of those can destroy precious pieces of history. Fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and an array of other events could endanger your community’s history. Natural disasters are far from the only thing that can ruin historical items. Lending out a yearbook could result in an inconsiderate individual returning it with pages missing, pictures cut out, or even it not being returned at all. All this is not even to mention the accidents that can happen from handling paper, even by well-meaning patrons.
Paper is a fragile medium, even perfectly preserved, it will eventually erode away, and with it, the history that is kept on it.
Digitizing these items with Advantage Archives provides you with a digital backup that runs on Microsoft’s cloud system. So long as the internet exists, your history will be safe. Advantage Archives also uses a non-destructive yearbook scanning process, featuring a V-shape cradle to ensure the spine of the yearbook is never overextended. This minimizes the possibility of damage or wear and tear, ensuring your hard copy can live a long and happy life.
Stealing the spotlight
Digitization is fantastic as a backup, but that’s not it’s only benefit. Digitization offers perks that hard copies cannot. Every item Advantage digitizes is run though our OCR (Optical Character Recognition) program. This converts the text into a searchable database. Not only will you be able to find the person you are looking for, you’ll be able to find them in multiple places, in multiple yearbooks, all with a single search.
To ensure the quality of the digital image accurately reproduces the original, the yearbook is lit uniformly using “cold” LED lighting. Utilizing these LED lights does not expose the book’s pages to excessive heat or exposure to the harmful wavelengths produced by some traditional lighting methods. This approach also removes the risk of handwritten notes in ink or pencil fading or becoming difficult to read in the digital images. In addition, the lights are positioned and turned to provide proper depth of color, remove hot spots and shadows, and in a manner that produces glare-free results, even on glossy materials.
Advantage does not use autonomous scanning technologies, meaning; only experienced scanning technicians will carefully handle your yearbooks throughout the process, removing any of the “unknowns” associated with fully automated scanning tech, or that rely on mechanisms to turn the pages of the book. The gentle touch of our human operators ensures your yearbooks do not get damaged in the process.
Online access solutions for previously digitized yearbooks
A growing number of libraries have digitized their yearbooks or are in the process of doing so. Unfortunately, many of these digitized collections are contained on DVDs or saved as multi-page PDFs in a folder structure on a local computer with little or no search capabilities. In most cases, these collections are only accessible to the community if they are on the institution’s premises.
Advantage has many partnerships with institutions possessing digital files created by other vendors, yearbooks scanned in-house, or participating in service projects like Oklahoma Correctional Institution’s (OCI) Yearbook Project.
Previously digitized content is easily converted, indexed, and made fully searchable via a Community History Archive, creating a practical and easy-to-use solution for patrons to access this content in a way in which information they seek is much more discoverable.
Connect with your community
Online access to yearbooks is a potent engagement tool and often generates considerable interest and interaction. By integrating yearbook content into an existing social media or content creation strategy, access to yearbooks can capitalize on the community’s sense of nostalgia and even provide a laugh or two.
Encourage your audience to share their findings, and post pictures found in the archives of themselves, family members, old friends, or even prominent members of the community as they were in their school days. For example, hairstyles and fashion choices of the day generally generate comments like “what in the world was I thinking…”
Use of digitized yearbooks ranges from genealogical researchers trying to connect the dots of their family history to those reliving their glory days as high school athletes or start students. The archive can also be a fun tool to be used by reunion committees or celebrating anniversaries or milestones of a school, club, athletic, or arts programs.
Yearbooks and Copyright
Advantage strongly believes in respecting rights holders’ intellectual property and strictly adheres to US copyright law. As with all of the digitization partnerships Advantage enters into, the digital yearbook images will be made available in a way that aligns with the intent and purpose of the original bound book.
If an institution is interested in embarking on a yearbook digitization project, Advantage suggests verifying that they have the right to do so. While there are some “rule of thumb” guidelines, we encourage our patterns to seek a second opinion if there is doubt.
Partner with Advantage
We forge strong meaningful partnerships to preserve and provide access to local history, like the history in a community’s yearbooks. However, we know that for a partnership to be successful, both parties must shoulder their fair share. This is why we host and maintain your yearbook collection and provide free access at any time, from anywhere, on any device.
Together we will create a valuable asset you are proud to share with your patrons and community.