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Preserving history with modern technology

WEVERTOWN - More than 100 historic photographs are being entered into the Johnsburg Historical Society's Past Perfect computer program, state-of-the-art software which is used by museums and historical societies to preserve precious collections.

Sharalee Falzerano is in the labor-intensive process of entering all JHS photos and accompanying data into the Society's computer files.

Falzerano described her daunting task.

"Since starting to work at Johnsburg Historical Society in mid-March, I've worked on various projects. I've copied over 1,000 scanned photographs to disks and stored them off site," she said. "This is a job I started back in 2003 as a volunteer, so it was nice to finally see the photograph collection backed up in case of a loss to originals. I mailed out renewal letters for 2009 membership with an update on recent accomplishments along with plans for the future."

Membership support is crucial to the success of JHS. according to officials, without it they could not present programs to the public such as the Mathew Brady lecture this February.

Plans are under way to begin the transfer of all past oral history interviews from cassette and VHS tape to DVDs.

"I've had a few requests to do some historical research, which I love to do. My biggest challenge is to stay focused and not get lost reading some juicy bits of history in our vast collection," Falzerano said.

The Johnsburg Historical Society will now be open to the public for research on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. People are asked to call ahead and make an appointment at 251-5788.

For these efforts JHS received praise from Albany's Capital District Library Council, Documentary Heritage Program. Regional Archivist Susan D'Entremont wrote:

"I am very pleased to learn about the steps you are taking to preserve your photographs and make them more accessible. It can be difficult to convince larger institutions than yours of the importance of describing the material when it is scanned. But, after all, what good is a scan if you don't know what it is? I'm so glad to see that you are linking data to your scans! Finally, by creating high quality master scans and storing copies off-site, you are taking steps to ensure that all your hard work will not be lost. I commend you on all your hard work and professionalism."

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