Southwest Harbor, ME

Uncovering Mount Desert Island's Hidden Histories: A Look Inside the Southwest Harbor Library's Digital Archive

Rachel Perkins

The Southwest Harbor Public Library in Maine is taking a significant step in preserving and sharing its rich history with the community. Archivists at the library are working to digitize a massive backlog of historical photographs and other materials in order to make as much of the collection publicly accessible as possible.

One of the key tools in this effort is the "Digital Archive" - an online app that was developed by the library's trustee and interim curator, George Soules, who is also a software architect. This app is now used by 18 cultural heritage organizations on Mount Desert Island to manage and share digital collections of historical photographs, documents, maps and research materials.

This is an important initiative that not only helps preserve the history of the island, but also makes it more accessible to the public. Thanks to the digital archive, residents and visitors can learn more about how islanders and "people from away" lived on and visited Mount Desert Island in the past.

The library is offering a "Behind the Scenes Tour of the Digital Archive" program on January 31st, which will give an overview of the project's history, funding, and underlying technologies. The program will also include a demonstration of dozens of photographs from the library's collection, which will give a glimpse of the significance of this project.

The Southwest Harbor Public Library's effort to digitize its historical collection is commendable. It's an excellent example of how technology can be leveraged to preserve and share our cultural heritage with the community. I encourage those interested in learning more about this project to register for the "Behind the Scenes Tour of the Digital Archive" program, and support the library's efforts to make their collection accessible to the public.

Source: "Discover History Through Library's Digital Archives" by MDI Islander,

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