An ambitious project focused on the online preservation of Sylvania's rich history has gotten the green light to move full steam ahead.
The Toledo Lucas County Library, Sylvania Schools, and Sylvania History Buffs have partnered up for The Archive Project. The goal is to create an online archive full of documents, photos, and memorabilia from Sylvania’s past, so that anyone, anywhere, anytime, can access and enjoy Sylvania’s rich history. The collection will be hosted online by the Toledo Library and Ohio Memory, and a preview of some documents can already be viewed at SylvaniaHistoryBuffs.org.
Documents are in the initial phase of being uploaded at the Sylvania History Buffs website, although, like all things right now, COVID has been a hindrance in the process.
“We started working on this in March, when COVID first hit us and everything shut down,” recalls Sylvania News managing editor Amanda Kay, who has spearheaded the volunteer portion of The Archive Project. "It's been very frustrating to try to move forward with all the limitations COVID has caused in accessing buildings and resources. But everyone is so excited about this, we just have to keep pushing forward!"
Kay has been working with Sarah Huey, a Sylvania teacher who is also the keeper of “The Vault” for Sylvania Schools. The Vault is actually a priceless collection of yearbooks, photos, and documents dating back to the 1800’s. Huey, who has been with Sylvania Schools for 22 years, follows in the footsteps of advisors Lou Levy, Frederick Marlowe, and Darlene Blakely as caretaker of the collection.
"When I go to old bookstores I am always looking for more yearbooks to add to the collection," said Huey. "But they are hard to find. My students like to look at them too, the kids today think they are really cool. It would be neat if everybody could flip through them online."
The Toledo Lucas County Library recently joined the collaboration, bringing their extensive experience and partnership with Ohio Memory and Ohio History Connection to complete the needs of The Archive Project. The collaboration is being modeled after a similar successful partnership the Library has with The Toledo Firefighters Museum and BGSU.
"We'll provide training and the use of our equipment to scan materials for The Archive Project," said John Dewees. "We have an array of equipment for use in this project, and there is a wealth of resources to work with."
Dewees is the Supervisor of Digitization Services at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, and is representing the Toledo Lucas County Library in their partnership with The Archive Project.
"I love the idea of Amanda Kay being a champion for local history in Sylvania," Dewees said. "Based on The Archive Project's goals, it will just be a matter of time but we should absolutely be able to get this goal accomplished. "
The library will be the site where much of the work for The Archive Project scanning will take place. Volunteers and student interns will be trained in scanning and preservation techniques.
"There’s a big push to use primary resources in education, so if we can get The Archive Project up and online and very accessible, then there’s a great pathway for that there," said Dewees. "The schools will be definitely able to use this for educational purposes."
Dewees believes that online preservation of historical materials is essential for many reasons.
"There are a lot of Ohio expatriates all over the country, being able to open this up to them is great," added Dewees. "Having materials in a vault or museum is only useful in a very limited way. But this collection will be accessible online and not limited at all."
Sarah Huey expressed similar sentiments.
“I would love to see them preserved online,” Huey said of the treasures in The Vault. "I think it will be really neat to have them all online. Very few people even know these things are here. Everybody should be able to look at them."
The community is invited to get involved and contribute to The Archive Project by joining The Sylvania History Buffs and purchasing premium memberships at SylvaniaHistoryBuffs.org (gift memberships are also available for purchase for the holidays); and also by contributing scans and pictures of their own materials for cataloging and uploading into The Archive Project. Students who are interested in applying for internships with The Archive Project should watch for the applications to be posted online after December 1. For further information contact support@SylvaniaHistoryBuffs.org.
Sarah Huey, keeper of "The Vault" for Sylvania Schools, sifts through the collection of old student newspapers, photos, documents and yearbooks being scanned for The Archive Project. Soon the treasures will be available online to everyone.