Library grant will bring SHS yearbooks online

Library grant will bring SHS yearbooks online

Greenville Library Director Dorothy Swain said the library will begin the process of digitizing and uploading Smithfield High School yearbooks onto the library’s website thanks to a $10,000 Rhode Island Foundation grant. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

SMITHFIELD – The Greenville Public Library will begin putting Smithfield High School yearbooks online, free to the public, after receiving a $10,000 grant for the project from the Rhode Island Foundation.

According to Greenville Library Director Dorothy Swain, she often receives requests for copies of old high school yearbooks, which gave her the idea for the library to apply for the grant and digitize the books.

“We’re going to make all this information accessible to the public,” Swain said.

She said putting all the information in one place that can be accessed around the clock will benefit the public.

She said the library does not have a complete set of the yearbooks, and sometimes turns people away looking for specific copies not stored at the library. Before, those looking for a book not at the library would need to go to the high school to see the books.

“That may not always be convenient for people visiting home from out of state or looking to find an old friend,” Swain said.

Swain said she wanted to do something to collaborate with the Smithfield School Department, and the digitizing of yearbooks seemed like a perfect opportunity. SHS is loaning the yearbooks, going back 50 years, to the library during the process.

Swain said the grant was written with the Smithfield School Department, the Smithfield Historical Society, and the Smithfield Preservation Commission.

She said depending on how much funding is used, the library may continue to digitize other school records as well.

“We’re going to run this program until we run out of money,” Swain said.

Swain said the older school buildings and the Smith-Appleby House have documents with information about the history of the buildings. She said she is hopeful the grant will last past the yearbooks, and said she will continue pursuing grants in case the Rhode Island Foundation grant runs out.

The Greenville Library purchased a scanner and compatible computer with money from the grant, and will employ seven SHS students to scan each book page by page over the summer.

Due to the tedious nature of scanning each page one at a time, students will work in shifts of two to three hours at a time. The team leader, who Swain said is the library’s technology expert in residence, Patricia McIvor, will be helping students upload the yearbooks to the library’s website.

She said the files will be given to each of the groups to upload to their websites as well. The yearbooks will be available on the Greenville Library, East Smithfield Library and SHS websites.

She said she expects the process to begin this week and continue into the fall.