Recently, I was hired to work as a summer intern at Tufts Archives and Given Memorial Library. It’s a small, but very pretty, little library in Pinehurst, North Carolina. For the most part, the Archives only keeps artifacts and documents related to their hometown, which mostly means that archivists save an absurd amount of information about retired white folks golfing away their golden years at the historic Pinehurst Resort. During the interview, my future boss explained to me that hours of their day are spent scanning and digitally archiving pictures and documents. Their backlog is insane. Tufts was opened during the 1960s, but they didn’t begin digital storage until 2015. This leaves the workers with about 70,000 papers to digitize and more coming in every day. Needless to say, I know what one of my major responsibilities will be this summer.
Thankfully, Tufts is making use of Omeka and PastPerfect to keep their information safe and accessible. Since its original release in 2008, Omeka has proven invaluable for many historical societies, teachers, and museums. It is a software that allows users to manage and display images, text, and even sound and video files. Without programs like Omeka, small archives like Tufts would honestly not be able to enter the digital age, much less allow their workers easy access to the information they want. Best of all, it’s really reasonably priced. The basic application is free to all users, and even the premium application is only $1549. Tufts, and organizations like it, need those cheap prices because so many of them are funded through donations. It’s clear that the team that created Omeka care about preserving history and furthering their user experience.
My future boss explained to me that although they used Omeka for about three years, Tufts is working on transitioning their digital storage to the PastPerfect Museum Software. She didn’t explain the reasons for this change, and simply stated that it fits their needs better. However, when I mentioned that I had heard of the programs through my digital history class, she was incredibly complimentary towards both softwares. Despite the effort that goes into managing the book store, library, and archives all while digitizing a ton of information, she definitely believes that it would have been impossible without Omeka and PastPerfect. If you are interested in the Tufts website, it can be found HERE. If you wish to check out their digital archives, you can find it HERE.