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Students Bring Historic Collections into Focus

Two goals set by Research Library Director Arie Hammond, hired in September 2021, were to make the library a community hub and to connect The Nat’s resources with diverse communities. She started on that path when she hired local community college students to digitize a hidden collection that’s almost a century old.   

With funding from The Parker Foundation, Arie recruited three paid apprentices to digitize 2,000 glass plate photographs, taken between 1900 and 1930, that feature the nascent city of San Diego and Balboa Park, and include the earliest images of flora and fauna from San Diego and Imperial Counties. Glass plates are fragile, but once digitized, we can glean the scientific and historical information they contain.  

This project will convert a relatively unknown collection of historic photographs into a valuable historic resource that’s accessible to people worldwide. It will also familiarize our apprentices with historic photography methods and modern technologies such as digital preservation, image metadata, and online photo sharing.  

We’re helping introduce students to careers in science and librarianship,” says Arie. And we’re benefiting from the fresh ideas and perspectives these talented, young people are bringing to The Nat. 



Posted by Senior Director of Communications Rebecca Handelsman on January 30, 2023

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