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Agency brings past forward to digital age

The past can remain accessible to the future thanks to a new agency.

On the Briggs Lawrence County Public Library's Web site, people can actually look at a reproduction of the Ironton Tanks stadium dedication souvenir program from 1929 thanks to Digital Archiving Services.

A program of the Lawrence County CAO's Special Projects Department, Digital Archiving Services is a non-profit organization providing people with a way to keep and view paper documents without extensive storage or the risk of the documents deteriorating.

"The purpose is to change paper documents to electronic documents," Dale Mootz, director of special projects at CAO, said.

The idea began when the CAO medical center's administrators realized they needed a new way to store the medical documents and papers required by law to keep on record instead of finding more space.

"We had a problem in our own agency and we addressed it so we thought it might be a problem of other organizations here," Jim Malone, special projects community relations director, said.

So that service is being extended to other businesses, and individuals, in the area, such as the libraries, which have already taken advantage.

"We started with office documents and have grown to a wide range of things," Malone said.

The Briggs libraries have had maps, a donated postcard collection and the 1929 Ironton Tanks football program converted.

"What you will see is the actual stadium dedication souvenir program from the 1926 game when the Ironton Tanks played the Kansas City Cow Boys," Joe Jenkins, director of the Briggs Lawrence County Public libraries, said. "It's the actual copy we have at the library but because it is so fragile, people can't look at it but they've digitalized it for us and we have a CD-Rom here for people to look at."

For Malone, this way of preserving history is an added bonus of what began as a means to manage paperwork.

"This is the historical aspect of it, the fun part," Malone said. "You can time-travel to 1926 Ironton."

Fast forwarding back to the digital age, the documents are taken and kept in a locked, secure location. Then papers are individually scanned and converted into a PDF file. Two CD copies will be given to the client along with the original documents if desired.

"We'll return the paper documents and electronic documents," Mootz said. "Or, if you don't need the papers back, we'll take care of the shredding."

Malone said the conversion to CDs will protect the files from being destroyed by fires or other natural disasters by having multiple copies of documents. It will also reduce storage space.

"Roughly a file drawer will be transferred to a CD," Malone said. "Three thousand scanned documents will fit on a CD."

The service's cost is determined on a case by cases basis.

"Our pricing approach is to give a quote based on your requirements and the condition of the files," Mootz said.

They will use a few documents first to compile a sample and determine a price.

"We give a free test sample," Malone said.

The service has already been a big hit with the Briggs libraries, which plan to keep using the service.

"It's really been a great help because of the age and fragility of some documents we can't leave them laying around for people to look at," Jenkins said. "We will continue using their services for items we can't just leaving lying around."

Digital Archiving Services is located at 305 N. Fifth St., Ironton and can be contacted at (740) 532-3534.