Digital North Carolina Blog

Digital North Carolina Blog

This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from institutions across North Carolina.

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Fans Share Their Stories: Taneya Y. Koonce, Genealogist and Researcher

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Taneya Y. Koonce, a native North Carolinian, information professional, and a well known genealogist. She shares her research and methods on Taneya’s Genealogy Blog and her new Koonce surname site. One of her projects includes indexing names from digitized yearbooks to help improve searchability by transcribing names. Taneya shared the thoughts below in support of our Medal application and we reshare them today with her permission.

Screenshot of the home page for the yearbook index, including a description of the site and search boxes.“My interest in the NCDHC stems from my passion for researching family history and genealogy. I am a native North Carolinian and over the past 12 years I have been an active participant in the online genealogy community as I’ve researched not only my own family tree, but aided in the research of many others. I have high visibility in the genealogy community and maintain leadership roles in the national USGenWeb Project, a volunteer-driven group that provides free resources to individuals researching their family heritage. I am currently the Assistant State Coordinator in the North Carolina-focused component of the project (the NCGenWeb) and work closely with researchers from across the country who have family roots in the state. I spearhead several projects designed to further maximize the reach and impact of the NCDHC work (such as an online index to graduating seniors listed in the yearbooks from the digitized yearbook collection), and have become intimately familiar with the Center’s collections.

“When the NCDHC began, I was immediately excited by their emergence and the potential for the wealth of resources that would be made more broadly available to those with North Carolina-related family history and historical interests. The digitization of state materials offers increased access for many such as myself, who are unable to visit the physical locations where these resources are housed. The breadth of material the NCDHC makes available – yearbooks, newspapers, images & memorabilia, city directories, and audio-visual resources, are a cross-cutting representation of the many format types historians, educators, and genealogists leverage for our respective fields of inquiry. Staff at the Center also incorporate industry-leading approaches to content delivery; such as the reader used for displaying historic newspapers which is an adaptation of the Library of Congress (LOC) platform for their monumental site. The NCDHC is just one of the few institutions that have adopted the LOC reader; a move which embodies the Center’s willingness to offer innovative solutions to site visitors. NCDHC participates in the Digital Public Library of America, contributes code to GitHub, and most recently has been purposeful in expanding the diversity of collection materials. These efforts are demonstrative of the Center’s strive for excellence. The Center has worked with steady focus to expand the geographical representation of the digital collection and currently has material from libraries, archives, schools, and cultural institutions from across the entire state – a quite admirable feat. Through their social media platforms, the Center also regularly engages in discourse with their constituents, providing timely and thoughtful replies to submitted questions; I’ve found their customer service to be at the highest caliber.”

Partners Share Their Stories: Richmond Community College in Hamlet

Cover shows a group of men and women in casual clothing smiling at the camera. Text: Join us this fall at Richmond Tech!

Cover of the Fall 1986 College Connection.

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Carolyn Bittle, Dean of Learning Resources at Richmond Community College in Hamlet. We have worked with RCC to digitize their yearbooks and other campus publications. Carolyn’s story is an example of digitization of print resources garnering attention and renewing interest in the college’s history.

I can say that since Richmond has been able to get some of our archival material digitized and online, it has increased interest from our administration.  

As a result of getting our older copies of the College Connection online, with your help, we are in the progress of “ rebirthing”  the College Connection [as RCC Connect]. The publication stopped in the spring of 2009, and now we are working on bringing it back into publication.  Hopefully, this will be available mid-March. The success stories, and class offerings were favored during its early printings, and it reached a lot of people in our two county area.  

So thank you for helping to get our publication back up! 

Partners Share Their Stories: Mauney Memorial Library in Kings Mountain

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Sharon Stack, Library Director at Mauney Memorial Library in Kings Mountain. We have worked with Mauney to digitize a variety of materials, including an H. Lee Waters film of Kings Mountain in 1942 (shown below). Even more, we have enjoyed partnering with them as they expand their own digitization capacity through an LSTA grant joint project with the Kings Mountain Historical Museum. Sharon shared these thoughts in support of our Medal application and we reshare them today with her permission.

Two men and two women seated on the ground, with their legs crossed at the ankles and feet towards the camera.

Kings Mountain High School Students from the 1953 yearbook, courtesy Mauney Memorial Library.

Unique. Special. Important.
Tucked away. Forgotten. Inaccessible.

For the Mauney Memorial Library and the Kings Mountain Historical Museum, those words describe the archival and museum holdings of our respective collections. The NC Digital Heritage Center has been a lifeboat for these collections. Our partnership is simple. When staff are traveling near Chapel Hill, NC we 
take our collections and have the Center digitize and publish them. Now, years later, collectively we have built a body of work that is reaching critical mass. With funding from an LSTA grant, we are working with the Center to host the museum and library’s photography collection. This will give Kings Mountain and North Carolina residents’ unprecedented access to the library and museum’s holdings. These materials are helping us to weave a digital story to entice and engage residents to learn more about their hometown and the fundamentals of its soul and the people and events that created it. It is an honor to write this letter of recommendation for the IMLS National Medal on behalf of NC Digital Heritage Center. Lisa Gregory and her staff take very complex processes and make it easy for the professional working in the field to digitize and publish collections. They are easy to work with, accessible for questions, and technical expertise. They go the extra mile to finding solutions to make materials available electronically. This depth of service is what sets the NC Digital Heritage Center apart. For a small town North Carolina library and museum, the Center helps us to make our collections: 

Unique. Special. Important.
Findable. Memorable. Accessible.

The NC Digital Heritage Center is deserving of this recognition of the best at work in libraries and museums today.

We’re a Finalist for the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service!

2018 FinalistNational Medal for Museum & Library Service, with image of medalWe’re honored and excited to announce that we have been named one of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) finalists for the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service!

We are one of 29 finalists for the medal, which is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to their communities.  

We share this recognition with each of our 227 partners, who have worked to increase access to North Carolina’s many voices by sharing their collections online. With over 35,000 visitors to each month, they have definitely succeeded! 

The winners will be announced later in the Spring. Until then, IMLS will be celebrating these 29 finalists and their impact on the nation. We encourage you to tell us how the Digital Heritage Center has impacted your life and work on Facebook or Twitter. Use the #IMLSmedals and #ShareYourStory hashtags. 

New Opportunity for Digitization Assistance with the Digital Heritage Center and State Archives of North Carolina

Men standing around and on top of a truck full of bags of tobacco.

Truck Load of Tobacco Weighing 23,188 lbs. From Braswell Memorial Library.

We’re excited to announce that we’re partnering with the State Archives of North Carolina on an initiative that will help current and new partners prepare and transport their materials to the Digital Heritage Center for scanning. Participants will attend workshops on describing materials and getting them ready for digitization. The State Archives will also provide for transport of materials to and from the Digital Heritage Center. We’re hoping this will be especially helpful for those furthest from Chapel Hill. The State Archives’ blog includes information about the program and a link to the application. The application deadline is March 16. Please let us know if you have any questions or need assistance filling out the application.

This program is funded through a grant awarded to the State Historical Records Advisory Board and the State Archives of North Carolina and, as such, the opportunity won’t be around forever. It is open to current Digital Heritage Center partners as well as any institution or organization eligible to become a partner. We hope you’ll share the word with organizations who may be interested.

New scrapbooks add to the history of Central Piedmont Community College

A view of the CPCC Campus and Parking Lot, circa 1979.

CPCC brought in planetarium curator Ray Shubinski to teach an astronomy class in 1980.

A new batch of several scrapbooks containing news and goings on at Central Piedmont Community College from May 1978 to Dec 1980 are now online on DigitalNC. These scrapbooks join previously digitized ones dating back to the late 1940s that cover the founding and first few years of CPCC. Included in the new scrapbooks are newspaper clippings, newsletters, photos, and advertisements.

Looking through the scrapbooks shows us what sorts of interesting programs and events were hosted on campus at that time. For example, when PBS broadcasted Carl Sagan’s Cosmos in October 1980, CPCC brought in Ray Shubinski, the planetarium curator of the Charlotte Nature Museum (now Discovery Place), to teach an accompanying 13-week course. At the time, the course cost $10.75.

To read more about Central Piedmont Community College in the 1970s, you can browse the scrapbook collection here. To learn more about CPCC, visit their partner page, or take a look at their website.

Six Months Later and We’re Not Done: Underrepresented Voices on DigitalNC

About six months ago we asked our partners to help us increase the diversity of voices shared on DigitalNC. We had an outpouring of interest, and partners have shared a number of rich collections from the African American and LGBTQ communities. Here’s an update of what has been added to DigitalNC as a result of this call.

Excerpt of a census page that includes school house census details and student names.

This 1903 Census Report for Morton Township, Alamance County, lists names, ages, and the names of parents of African American students. 

Alamance County Public Libraries shared a wide variety of materials documenting African American communities in that county. Two groups of photographs, the Heritage of Black Highlanders and Asheville YWCA Photograph Collection, are parts of larger collections held by University of North Carolina at Asheville

Several partners added African-American newspapers to those already shared online at DigitalNC. 

We’ve also been working with University of North Carolina at Charlotte to share issues of Q-Notes, which covers updates, events, and issues of the LGBTQ community.

Diversifying DigitalNC isn’t a one-time event – it’s ongoing every day. If your institution has or will be targeting collections that document racial, ethnic, or geographic communities who are underrepresented on DigitalNC, and you’re interested in sharing these materials online, get in touch.

NCDHC Strategic Themes, 2017-2019

We’re pleased to announce the Digital Heritage Center’s first set of strategic themes, which we’ve just released. These themes reflect what we’ve heard from partners and other institutions around the state over the last year. They join our longstanding but slightly revised Mission and Values statements.

If you’ve followed our work for awhile, these themes will be familiar. But there are nuances here that will drive some of our newer initiatives, such as scanning on location and increasing the diversity of voices available through DigitalNC.

Let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to working hard to help our partners share North Carolina’s cultural heritage.

NCDHC 2017-2019; empower cultural heritage professionals by offering services and training;, strengthen community identities through history and culture; increase access to information for all through freely available online resources

We Want to Come to You! New On Location Digitization Service Begins

On Location Digitization Services icon with young boy riding in a toy car

Logo image courtesy the Braswell Memorial Library! “Ricky in Toy Car” 

Have you been interested in working with the Digital Heritage Center but find it difficult to get to Chapel Hill, or have concerns about having your materials off site? We want to come to you! We’ll be working with two or three cultural heritage institutions over the next nine months to try out on-location scanning.  If you’d like to nominate your institution, read on and use the nomination form linked at the end of this post.

What We Do

Here’s what nominated institutions will receive as part of this process.

  • We will bring our scanners, computers, and staff to your institution to digitize and describe materials from your collections. We would be there for one full weekday, at a minimum.
  • We’ll host the scanned images and associated metadata on, and give you copies of the original scans to use in any non-profit context.
  • Optionally, we can do a presentation for staff and/or the public related to any of the following topics:
    • The Digital Heritage Center’s services (for staff at your institution and/or other local cultural heritage institutions)
    • A demonstration of what we’re doing while we’re there (for staff at your institution)
    • The variety of resources you can find on and other fantastic digital collections in North Carolina (staff or the public)

What We’ll Need from Partners We Visit

If you’re chosen, we’d need:

  • At least one conference call before arrival to clarify expectations, work with you on scheduling, and talk through the materials you’d like scanned.
  • Description and a light inventory of the items we’ll be scanning, if there isn’t one already available.
  • Some assembly and preparation of the materials you’ve chosen. This might include physically pulling all of the content together before we arrive and removing staples if the materials are stapled at the top corners.
  • A designated staff contact regularly available to ask questions regarding what we’re scanning while we’re there, and to help with logistics like getting equipment in and out of the building, etc.
  • An indoor location that has:
    • at least two power outlets,
    • internet connectivity,
    • a work area large enough for 2 scanners and 4 laptops as well as extra room for materials handling,
    • seating for four people, and
    • is away from the public so we can get the most scanning accomplished in our limited time (ideal but not required).

Additional Guidance for Nominations

  • We’ll be giving priority to nominations from institutions furthest from Chapel Hill and to new partners. If you are a prospective partner, please check to make sure you’re eligible.
  • The materials have to be owned by your institution.
  • The materials should cover North Carolina subjects, events, and people.
  • For these on-location sessions, we’re accepting nominations for the following types of items:
    • photographs (prints) and/or postcards
    • looseleaf print materials up to 11×17”
    • bound items may be considered, but in very limited numbers and only if transporting them to Chapel Hill would be impossible
  • Materials can be fragile but should be stable enough to withstand gentle handling and placement on a flatbed scanner.

We’ll review nominations according to the following criteria, so you may want to address these in your nomination form:

Category Point Value
New partner 1
New town 1
New county** 2
Materials document an underrepresented
     community or population
Materials are well described/inventoried 5
Majority of materials date from 1945 or earlier        1
Materials are believed to be unique 1

** We have yet to work with any institutions in the following counties: Alexander, Bertie, Bladen, Camden, Caswell, Chowan, Clay, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Graham, Greene, Henderson, Hoke, Jones, Mitchell, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Swain, Tyrrell, Yancey

Use this nomination form to submit!

We’ll start reviewing nominations on September 30 and will notify selected institutions shortly thereafter. If a selected institution ends up not being able to host us, we’ll continue down the list.

We’re excited about trying out this new service. Please contact us with any questions and share this with any institutions you think might be interested.

We Run on IMLS: Who and What Supports NCDHC

We Run on IMLS BadgeDigitization is faceless work – you rarely see the hands that carefully place fragile scrapbooks under the camera and click capture, or hear the voices debating the best description of that great photograph a partner sent us. And we don’t stick a price tag on each item, parsing out how much our funders contributed to get that item online. 

So today’s post is about two things I think don’t get noticed often enough. The first thing is money. All of the accomplishments of the Center have been supported in very large part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, through Library Services and Technology Act funding disbursed by the State Library of North Carolina. In other words, we run on IMLS. Digital libraries often include funders in footers or on “About” pages, but I decided to take this opportunity to bring it up front. Together, IMLS, UNC-Chapel Hill, and the State Library of North Carolina are the why, how, and whether DigitalNC exists. The power of this funding partnership is in its efficiency, its statewide view, and the way our work boosts what’s being done by counties and towns in their local institutions. It’s how our partners supercharge their collections, moving them beyond shelves to your screen. And we really hope it sticks around

A Wayne County scrapbook page that includes the gloved hand of the student scanner.

A rare shot that includes the gloved hand of a student worker as they gently lift up a document to capture the letter underneath.

The second thing is people. Behind each of the hundreds of thousands of images on are multiple individuals from multiple communities, who want YOU to see, share, build upon, question, and participate in North Carolina’s culture, wherever you are. These are the caring librarians, archivists, curators, or history-minded individuals with a passion not only for preserving their community’s history but also for giving that history legs. These are the full-time NCDHC staff who answer questions, juggle schedules, write code, and try to best serve users. These are the 20 student workers who have scanned, and scanned, and scanned over the last six years, whose professional development we have fostered and who were exposed to information-rich, quirky, poignant, and various special collections from all over the state.

Our goal is to make the materials front and center so you don’t see us or think about us.  But next time you find that great article on your hometown’s history, we hope you’ll think about who helped get it there and the funding it took to make it happen.