Wayne State University

04/26/2017 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/26/2017 05:39

Innovative partnership increases exposure for Detroit’s largest archival repository

Historical materials preserved at the Walter P. Reuther Library are receiving increased exposure and research use through an innovative partnership with the Digital Publishing Unit in the University Library System. The Reuther Library is the largest archival repository in Detroit and preserves primary sources related to the history of organized labor in North America, urban affairs in Southeast Michigan and Wayne State University. The library contains over 75,000 linear feet of archival holdings, including paper and digital manuscript material, photographic prints and negatives, oral histories, audio recordings, and motion picture recordings.

One of the most popular collections - and the first to move into the new digital collections platform created through this initiative - includes thousands of photos from the Detroit News Photograph Collection, popularly known as the 'Virtual Motor City.'

Another early project has brought more than 1,000 photographs of Wayne State campus buildings online. Work will continue in the coming months and years to digitize additional items from the Reuther's 1,400 collections.

Behind the scenes, the initiative offers important technical experience for WSU archivists and librarians. An integrated set of tools support virtual workflows across several buildings to meet international image, metadata and digital preservation standards. These processes include hands-on learning opportunities for graduate students in the history department and at the School of Library and Information Science.

The Reuther has seen increased research use by WSU students and faculty, particularly with an expanding number of course assignments using archival material. As the university approaches its sesquicentennial celebration in 2018, additional images depicting campus life will be invaluable in marking 150 years of campus history. Public access to these materials will create opportunities for researchers in local, national and international communities as well.

The digitization initiative is also part of the University Library System's leadership in connecting digital collections across Michigan to the Digital Public Library of America. DPLA serves as a national aggregator of digitized historical content with single-search capacity across hundreds of archives, libraries and historical museums. The University Library System was recently notified of a $160,000 grant from the Library of Michigan to further its work with DPLA and engage with three local organizations to digitize, describe and share historical materials about underrepresented communities in Detroit.

Photo Credit: Women Assembling Cars during World War I.