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Alkek Library to digitize archives’ 1.5 million photographic negatives

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
Office of Media Relations
October 4, 2016

The Albert B. Alkek Library at Texas State University will begin digitizing an estimated 1.5 million photographic negatives and making the digital copies available to researchers, thanks to a new grant.

The project, funded by a $25,000 “TexTreasures” grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, will allow Alkek Library to install two custom-built film negative capture stations that will be used to digitize negatives held in the University Archives.

“We are very excited to learn of this grant award,” said Joan Heath, associate vice president and university librarian. “The funding will help us better serve our users both on and off campus, by making more important area information available digitally.”

The San Marcos Daily Record donated its archive of photographic negatives to the University Archives in January 2016. The collection includes an estimated 800,000 images and spans approximately 70 years, from the mid-1930s to the 2000s. When combined with the negatives already housed in the University Archives, the number of negatives is estimated at 1.5 million.

The ultimate goal is to digitize all negatives and make the vast majority of them accessible online. The project will be completed in stages over several years because of the massive size of the collection.

Daily Record negatives capture the transformation of San Marcos from Depression‐era dirt roads to the earliest years of our present digital age. The negatives trace the physical changes to the landscape and document the demographics, politics and industries of the times.

The TexTreasures grant program aims to help libraries make their special collections more accessible for the people of Texas and beyond.