I’ve mentioned before that we are adding scans for all of the documents into PastPerfect. Originally I understood this to be for internal purposes—Hillary is the primary user of the database and a quick reference image is helpful for her locating or identifying an object. I was recently in conversation with her and another volunteer, Susan, about the scans and she offered some more information about the use of these images. Apparently MCHC is courting companies that could make its database or parts of the database available online, which would allow researchers to see what documents the History Center has, hopefully increasing the usefulness and accessibility of the archival materials (and other non-document items in the MCHC’s holdings).
These images would be available on this future online resource, giving possible outside users the same ability to identify or reference the appearance of an item when searching for it if they come on-site. Or the image, along with the description, could help verify the usefulness of a document and perhaps allow the researcher to request a scan of the document from the MCHC confident it will fulfill their information needs.
We do not scan everything—a book’s record will only display the cover, a stapled manuscript of ten pages will only display the first sheet of paper. The use of these low-resolution scans is not for research work but instead for helping with democratization of the collections, giving users a visual reference for items of interest to them.