Wednesday, October 17, 2007


This morning I made my way to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne.
I could not have picked better weather. A perfect Autumn morning!
The air was crisp, the sky was blue, the sun was shining bright where the Autumn morning fog had not yet lifted. It was beautiful!

October 17 was set aside for training us, the new 5 part-time service missionaries who will help with the digitization of books selected by the ACPL at the Fort Wayne Digital Processing Center.

We waited upstairs for Elder and Sister Muchmore to come and get us. 2 volunteers also came in to train with us. We each received a packet with a basic ‘how-to’ and a form to fill out so we could also be recognized as ACPL volunteers. Curt Witcher paid us a quick visit to welcome us, then we were introduced to others on staff in the basement office.
Several of us don’t live in Allen County and so don’t have one of their library cards.
We turned in our volunteer application and after being interviewed we will receive an ACPL volunteer badge and a sticker or something that will cover any parking fees in the ACPL lots.

We were then instructed with the help of PowerPoint presentation laying out the main lines of the project.

I had seen the product of this work and had heard about it through presentations but had never dreamed I’d be able to participate.

Sister Muchmore mentioned that Fort Wayne is the first satellite operation for this project, mainly because they also espouse the Church’s philosophy that genealogical and historical materials should be made available free online that help individuals know and appreciate their ancestors.

Although the Orem Digital Processing Center started first the learning curve is still very high and so we were likened to pioneers, which explains my choice of Blog name.

The books selected for this process are those written in English (some handwritten ones are online but these can not be OCRd - optical character recognition - so are not as user friendly for the researcher)

The church has focused its attention on published family histories but the ACPL has chosen to digitize local histories first.
Some of the books are very old. Those that can be cut are run through a form feeder scanner while those that can not be are scanned on an amazing machine that reminded me of a hospital scanner. 3 scanners are in use at the ACPL at present: 2 Cannon form feeder scanners and a Minolta PS7000. The form feeders work fast while the other is slower.

No matter the process to get one of these books online is a meticulous one.
Before any scanning is done, it is necessary to set up the digital pagination.
Great care is given to ensure ALL pages are accounted for, even the blank ones.

Once each book is finished it becomes available through the FHL Catalog and also through the BYU site at
Later they will also be accessible for free from the Allen County Library website.

I look forward to sharing my weekly experience here…
It’s going to be wonderful, I hope…
Much to learn… I hope my brain doesn’t fry…