08 November 2019

Scanning Vernon's Directories at LAC

Women on a mission. From last April to next September Sally Mansell (seated) and Diann Wells are busy in Ottawa, at Library and Archives Canada. They are on the front line imaging Ontario City Directories in a cooperative project between LAC, OGS and FamilySearch.

Scanning is just part of the project. Before they became involved the project had been scoped to estimate the time and resources needed — very much an estimate based largely on the thickness of the book.

The book scanning equipment they use adjusts to preserve the binding and lay the pages flat. In some cases, it's almost too late. Scanning page by page you never know what you may discover. Whole sections may have become unbound. Some are in such bad shape that they don't scan them until just before the weekly vacuuming of their area which picks up the page fragments (chaff).

As well as a hardcopy scanner there's also a microfilm scanner for the few directories uniquely available in that format. Once scanned they, along with two local part-timers, are responsible to audit the work making sure the images are as clear as possible, aligned and no pages have been missed.

The computer files then go to Utah for further auditing, and possible retakes in Ottawa, and then on to OCR so that we users can find where our great-grandparents lived in 1910 just by searching for the name.

To date, 198 volumes have been scanned and are now online — https://ogs.on.ca/vernons-directories/. Another 231 volumes are in Utah ready to go online soon (hopefully). Currently, the project is working on Hamilton directories which is one of the largest collections. Guelph is another large collection to come. If you're concerned that you might not find a volume you want to consult when you visit LAC don't be. When I was there about half a shelf of Hamilton directories had been taken for scanning and were replaced by a note that a volume could be promptly retrieved by asking at the consultation desk.

Immediately before coming to Ottawa both Sally and Diann had been on a one-week course to learn procedures. They both spoke warmly about enjoying their time in Ottawa so far, perhaps with a certain hesitancy with the approach of winter which would be unlike the climate they experience at home in Texas and Oregon.

Thanks to Diann and Sally for showing me and explaining their project, and to D Michael Hanson, FamilySearch Image Capture Operations Manager for the U.S. and Canada who facilitated my visit.

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