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How Do I Do This?

Today, quick and easy access to information is what it's all about, no?

For quite some time now, I have been frustrated by the lack of easy access to Dover’s historical records:  old Town Reports, reports produced by various committees: school, church, selectmen, things related to town-wide celebrations, as well as the few books written about Dover’s history.

For a long, long time, these records were available at the Town Library. After the re-arrangement of the library, these materials were housed in the workroom, but now they are... somewhere else. I’ve inquired about these materials and was told that they were too fragile in some cases, and too unique to just be out on the shelves now. Granted, I understand; most of this material is one-of-a-kind. Hence, I have a suggestion:  how about the Dover Library and the Dover Historical Society initiate a project to scan this material into a searchable data base that would then be available on both of their websites and/or the Town’s website. This way, all interested parties could have easy access to this material.

Back in the day, materials like this would have ended up on microfiche, or microfilm. But building a digital database is an even better way of preserving and disseminating historical information.

As we sit in Dover today and address issues, it would be very enlightening to be able to go and read old Town Reports or other records to see what the history of these issues is; how many times has the Town addressed a certain issue? What action did it take on the issue?  Why did it do something, why did it not do something? What was the discussion concerning the issue?  And wouldn’t it just be wonderful if these materials were indexed, so you could search the database by name, and subject?  Such things are possible.

Ah, the stuff of which dreams are made.

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Sally Helwig February 09, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Joan, you raise a key point! And I would think the selectmen would like to be able to access these town reports as well. I wonder how expensive it is to create a digital data base?
Joan Panek February 09, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Sally, I know there are directions and even videos on the internet and YouTube for creating searchable databases. The scanning of documents can be done by volunteers, but we might well want to have the actual creation of the data base done by someone who knows what s/he's doing. (Hah! There's an idea.) We would have to shop around for bids. We might have o pay for it by fundraising for that specific effort. I am certain it could be done. Where's there's a will, there's a way.

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