Lariat history finds a new digital home

Lariat pages are scanned during digitization in Moody Memorial Library. More than 100 years of the Lariat will soon be available online.
Allyson Riley | University Libraries-Texas Collection

By Alyssa Maxwell

More than 100 years of Baylor history recorded in the Baylor Lariat are being archived and digitized for reader’s convenience.

The Baylor Lariat project is collaboration between the Texas Collection, the Digitization Projects Group and the Baylor Student Publications.

The Digitization Projects Group is the group within the Electronic Library tasked with creating, presenting and preserving the digital collections of the university.

The Texas Collection inherited the volumes of bound Lariats located at Carroll Library, which span from 1900 to present day. Amy S. Benson, digital collection consultant for the Texas Collection, says The Texas Collection Lariat archive is the most complete collection known to exist.

“Evidence suggests that individuals with an interest in Baylor history began collecting and binding the newspaper for the first Baylor library housed in the Carroll Library Building,” Benson said.

In the past two years, the libraries have been able to bring together a combination of technology, source material and staffing to undertake this major project.

“The Lariats are one of the most important historical resources available for research into the history of Baylor University, Texas and the world,” Eric S. Ames, digital collections consultant of the Electronic Library, wrote in an email to the Lariat.

The Lariat collection is one of thousands of periodicals available for patron usage at the Texas Collection located in Carroll Library with issues dating back to 1900 available online.

“Students who write a report on the history of campus organizations at Baylor, and need information on the Philomathesian Society, the Noze Brotherhood or Chamber would benefit from the archives being digitized,” Ames wrote.

Patrons can access microfilm copies of the Lariat by requesting them at the front desk of the Texas Collection. If a patron wishes to view the original issues, those issues can be retrieved from storage and reviewed in the reading room of the Texas Collection.

The Lariats come bound in large books, Frank Jasek, book preservation specialist at the central libraries, said, “and my job is to take them apart.”
Jasek says each volume contains a year-and-a-half of Lariats and takes 20 to 30 minutes to separate. The originals are prepped at the Texas Collection and transported to the Riley Digitization Center in Moody Memorial Library.

Once at the center, the Electronic Library’s Digital Projects Group assigns a unique digital identifier to each issue, and enters it into a system that tracks the digitization process.

The issues are then scanned on one of two scanners.

“Once the issues are digitized, the images are processed using optical character recognition to produce a full-text searchable PDF and ingested into the software that manages our digital collections,” Benson wrote.

Finally, a team of researchers adds metadata basic cataloging information such as the date, publication information and article headlines into the system, making them searchable online via Google and other search engines. At that point, the issues are fully available as part of the Baylor Digital Collections.

“The Digital Projects Group has been making significant progress on the project for the past year and a half, and is just about finished with the initial scanning of the full run,” Benson said.

In Spring 2012, Texas Collections will officially launch the digital collection of the Lariats currently being built by the Digital Projects Group.