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F-MCC: Going global with our history

Monday, October 31, 2011 - Updated: 3:09 AM

By MARY DONOHUE

For the Recorder

Whenever opportunities for collaboration and knowledge-building activities come to our attention, the Evans Library moves enthusiastically to participate. On the local level, we have digitized historical society and museum collection items in the Fulton-Montgomery Photographic Archives <http://fmphotoarchives.org>. Globally, we contribute and provide access to WorldCat <http://worldcat.org>, a catalog which places the world's resources at users' fingertips. The Evans Library embraces the opportunity to join with other educational and cultural institutions to share resources, provide access to information, support education, and promote life-long learning.

One of our more recent endeavors is a new partnership with regional libraries and museums in digitizing items of interest and disseminating them via the World Wide Web. In 2007, the Capital District Library Council obtained a federal Library Services and Technology Act grant to digitize material from selected organizations throughout New York State's Capital Region including Albany, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, and Washington counties. Recently, this regional site was merged with other Library councils into one state-wide collection called the New York Heritage Digital Collections <http://www.newyorkheritage.org/>. Their website contains items from over 160 distinct digital collections that reflect New York State's long history.

To provide unique materials to New York citizens and historical scholars, the Evans Library proposed adding the Nestle Railroad materials to the effort. This collection, donated to the Evans Library's Kenneth R. Dorn Regional History Studies Center in 2001, is comprised of the historical records of the Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville (FJ&G) Railroad. It provides a history of commercial transportation in the Mohawk Valley during the 19th and 20th centuries and is unique in its focus on a local railroad industry and business. Senior Library Clerk Trish Battisti was trained in the software and processes used to digitize these historic items and, with the help of local historian Peter Betz and railroad expert Paul Larner, input 20 unique records which were made public when the site went live in March 2011.

While looking at the site itself is the best way to see what has been accomplished, a few of the items bear a quick view that exemplifies the kinds of records in the online Nestle collection to date. A document from 1907 titled "Sacandaga Route to the Adirondacks" provides a look at a local one-way passenger tariff for the FJ&G Railroad. This item lists the cost of traveling to surrounding communities such as Fonda, Sammonsville, Mayfield, and the Sacandaga Park. Another interesting item is featured on the New York Heritage site during the month of October. The undated photograph shows a Gloversville railroad car just after it ran into a Fonda car in front of the Gloversville car barns. Additional photos and documents of interest will be added as time allows.

Please go online and take a look at our collection now that we've 'gone global' -- you'll be glad you did!

Mary Donohue is Professor and Library Director of Evans Library.

     

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