The history of Hamilton County is more accessible than ever with the recent launching of a digital archives website.
At Tuesday's meeting of the Kendall Young Library Board of Trustees, Library Director Angie Martin-Schwarze presented the digital archive to board members. Currently, the only publication on the archives is the Webster City Tribune. The newspaper dates from 1886 to 1916 and each issue is available online. Other publications are also planned to be added to the archives
"The goal is still to do the more recent years and continue fundraising to be able to get as near to the present day as possible so there will be a continuous run of newspapers and history to search," Martin-Schwarze said.
The digitizing of the newspaper also includes the ability to search within the text of the historic papers. Martin-Schwarze showed the board how a search for Kendall Young Library showed the Sept. 22, 1905 edition of the Tribune with a front page story on the dedication of the library. Martin-Schwarze said the website would be a huge boon for those who want to dig into local history.
"People that are doing genealogy research, now, they have to go by microfilm reel by reel which maybe has a couple years on it and hopefully find something," Martin-Schwarze said. "This will make it possible to find very specific things very easily."
Papers that will be added to the database include the Williams Wasp from 1898 to 1910, the Jewell Record from 1895 to 1922 and more. Martin-Schwarze said the next phase of the project should be completed by 2014.
To access the archives, go to www.kylib.org and from the eLibrary menu, choose "Digital Archives."
Also at the meeting, the board continued their discussion of appraising special collections at the library. Last month, the board discussed finding an appraiser for the Foster Doll Collection, totaling 170 dolls that were donated to the library in 1944 and are viewable at the lower level of the library. Martin-Schwarze said last month that she contacted Lana Norlin of Marshalltown, who said she would appraise the dolls at a charge of $3 per doll. She was also interested in hosting an appraisal program for the public at the library.
This month, the board discussed how to get the Van Ness Native American Collection at the library appraised. The collection was given to the library in 1898 to provide for its preservation. The collection includes 42 items and are on display in the juvenile department of the library.
The board is not looking to sell either the Foster Doll Collection or the Van Ness Native American Collection. Martin-Schwarze said the library's insurer has asked about the cost before in case of damages or disaster and the library currently does not know how much money the collections are worth.
Martin-Schwarze said she spoke with Jackson's International Auctioneers and Appraisers in Cedar Falls. The company's estimate was that it would take between 35 and 45 hours to appraise the Native American Collection at the cost of $150 an hour. The cost for the library to appraise those items with Jackson's would cost between $5,250 and $6,750.
The board chose to not get the collection appraised with Jackson's. Board President Mark Dohms said the cost was much higher than the $510 it would take to have the Doll Collection appraised and waiting to find a cheaper appraiser would be better.
"We've had the collection a long time, and I don't know that a month or two would really make a difference but it would be nice to know how much it's worth," Dohms said.
Martin-Schwarze said she will continue to look for a way to have the Native American Collection appraised.