-- Donovan Research Library gets funding boost in digitization drive -- Project to digitize more than 40,000 documents -- Conversion should be completed in September
FORT BENNING, Ga. — Donovan Research Library’s digital overhaul — nearly a decade in the making — got a big boost recently.
Ericka Loze-Hudson, the Maneuver Center of Excellence Library director, said her staff secured $400,000 in MCOE funding at the end of last fiscal year to digitize and preserve a large batch of resources. It includes more than 40,000 historical documents, post newspapers from the 1920s through 2009, several hundred reels of microfilm, 10 Doughboy yearbooks, 75 Officer Candidate School yearbooks and 10 Infantry Officer Advanced Course yearbooks.
Three shipments of materials have been sent to SM Resources Corporation, the company handling the duplication and creation of digital objects, said Genoa Stanford, Donovan’s systems technician. The final one should be ready sometime in February.
“This is just a dent of what we have here — and we’re finding new things all the time,” Stanford said, “(but) this funding will go a long way to preserve Donovan Library’s historical collection for use by generations of students for years to come.”
Loze-Hudson said Donovan has struggled for years to complete digitization. The effort was initially spearheaded in-house by Stanford, who used scanners for fragile documents and large maps to safeguard the information in a format that could be easily accessed by students and faculty while preventing continued deterioration of the collection.
Stanford wound up digitizing more than 3,000 student papers, personal war experiences and historical reports from students in various officer career courses dating back to World War I. In the spring of 2002, she posted the first 174 documents on the library’s Web site. A year later, the Donovan staff began researching ways to organize, duplicate and digitize the library’s collection of deteriorating microfilm, which contained additional student papers, unit histories, after-action and operations reports from battles.
Stanford said the library’s collection features papers from generals such as Colin Powell, Peter Pace and Joseph Stilwell — when they were Infantry students here.
The Donovan Library has partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to digitize some Ranger programs of instruction and Panamerican Consultants to digitize the historical book, A History of the Infantry School. About two years ago, Bill Hansen, director of the U.S. Armor School Research Library at Fort Knox, Ky., got $300,000 in funding to digitize its collection of Armor student papers, post newspapers, historical documents and Field Manuals.
Since the digitization projects began at Donovan, Stanford has worked closely with the Directorate of Information Security staff, which reviewed the historical documents before shipment to make sure they did not contain classified or sensitive information. Meanwhile, volunteers from the Warrior Transition Battalion, American Red Cross and Columbus High School assisted library staff by removing staples and clamps from documents and packaging them.
“The project is massive,” Stanford said. “This is a collaborative effort to make Armor and Infantry materials available, and make the information virtual for all our patrons to use … We get so many research questions. This will really help the users.”
Loze-Hudson said COL Charles Durr, the MCOE chief of staff, was instrumental in pushing for the recent Donovan funding.
After the digitized files are returned, checked for accuracy and added to the online catalog system, the collection will ultimately become part of the MCOE Library’s Virtual Library Branch. The Web site is being revised now.
Donovan reference librarian Sherrie Floyd, the project’s contracting officer representative, submits monthly progress reports and said the current endeavor should be completed in September.
“Digitization is an ongoing effort and will continue as long as we have information of value that needs to be preserved and available for use by Soldiers and individuals interested worldwide,” she said.
Donovan Research Library’s student-paper collection may be viewed at www.benning.army.mil/monographs/index.asp. The Armor Research Library’s digital collection of student papers is available at www.benning.army.mil/monographs/content/armor/index.htm.