History of the Project

History of the Digital Archive Project

Meredith Rich Hutchins, librarian from 1979 to 1986, was the first to recognize the value of the collection and organize its care. She meticulously maintained the boxes and binders of photographs for 27 years. Meredith’s expertise as a genealogist and local historian was practically unmatched in the community.

In 2006, Charlotte R. Morrill, at the time a member of the Library board, joined with Meredith to write a history of the library. It quickly became apparent that the first task was to organize the remnants of its history, the documents and photographs that had been accumulating since the library was founded in 1884. It took only a few weeks for Charlotte and Meredith to decide to scan and organize the material into the Southwest Harbor Public Library Collection of Photographs.

Meredith, to whom the Digital Archive is dedicated, became the curator and an archivist. Charlotte became an archivist and project designer. They worked together intensively for 10 years with the help of many enthusiastic volunteers. With extraordinary help from Lynne Birlem and Ralph Stanley, they gathered invaluable facts, details, and stories about local history, generating volumes of research about each photograph. Archivists entered the details and a thumbnail of each picture into an Access database on a computer, available to the public at the library. The goal was to use the photographs in the collection to tell the wide ranging, colorful and human story of the community on the western side of Mount Desert Island.

George Soules is a software architect and a trustee of the Library. He joined the project in 2014 to make the collection available to anyone online. Using Omeka software as a foundation, along with invaluable input and insights from Charlotte, he developed the Archive Relational Model and Digital Archive Software. Janice Kenyon helped develop the software, created this website, and added enormous amounts of content to the Archive. Kate Soules established literally thousands of relationships between database items in the Archive to make the work of Meredith, Charlotte, and so many others truly come alive.

Project Timeline

  • 420 mya – Mount Desert Island formed from a volcano
  • 1884 – Library begins with books discarded from hotels
  • 1895 – The original library building on Main Street was dedicated
  • 1980s – Cataloging of physical photos begins (Weaver)
  • 2006 – Scanning & digital cataloging begin (Morrill/Hutchins)
  • 2009 – Microsoft Access database debuted
  • 2015 – Conversion to PastPerfect begins and ends
  • 2016 – Development of Digital Archive begins
  • 2017 – Digital Archive debuted

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