Riel Gallant is spending his summer working as an archives assistant in Archives & Special Collections (located in the Killam Library) through the Young Canada Works program. His summer project is digitizing Dalhousie yearbooks.
The goal is to preserve high-resolution TIFF files of every yearbook page on the Archives & Special Collections’ server. Those files then get converted to PDF format, and made available to the public on Dalhousie’s DalSpace. “We’re trying to capture the feel of an old yearbook in a digital format,” says Riel.
Riel is enjoying the digitization process, even though he encountered some unexpected technical challenges at the outset. Now that he’s mastered techniques for the various scanners and software, he’s developed a process that will allow future digitizers to produce more in less time.
“Digitizing as a method of preserving is a process I find fascinating and worthwhile—it is one of the main reasons why I wanted to enrol in the Library and Information Studies program and work at the Archives. I look forward to seeing my work uploaded onto Dalhousie’s server where it will be accessible for years to come,” he says. Riel will be entering his second year of Library and Information Studies at Dalhousie in the fall.
One of the unexpected side-benefits of this project is seeing the changes at Dal through the years. “As I go through these old yearbooks, I see the styles change along with the changing political climate. It’s interesting to see that students at Dal were holding both anti and pro Vietnam rallies, that’s not something I expected to see,” says Riel.