Since 2010, Clemson University and the National Park Service have collaborated on the Open Parks Network, an Institute of Museum and Library Services funded project that has resulted in the digitization of over 350,000 cultural heritage objects and 1.5 million pages of gray literature housed in the libraries, museums, and archives of our nation’s parks, historic sites, and other protected areas. More than 20 national parks and other protected sites are represented in these diverse collections, as well as 2 state park systems and 3 university libraries. The Open Parks Network provides public access to high-resolution, downloadable files.
Getting to 200,000 images was no small feat for a digitization lab housed in the basement of Cooper library scanning a couple thousand images a year in 2009. The project required most of the historical items be digitized at Clemson, which meant coordinating shipping with the parks and, for certain projects, having members of the team drive 8 hours away to pick up items. For some parks, shipping caused concern about the fragility of their materials; in rare cases, our team would drive or fly to the parks with scanning equipment to digitize on site. In a little over a year, scanning had gone from 5,000 images per year to 34,000, and reaching 92,000 at the height of the scanning phase in 2013. This increase in production was greatly helped by the migration of the digitization lab to a new facility out at Research Park in 2011 called the Library Depot. With the help of outsource digitization an additional 141,000 donor cards were scanned. By the end of the grant project the total number of scans reached over 341,000. In addition to cultural heritage artifacts, Clemson partnered with Internet Archive to bring two of their scanning stations to the Library Depot and digitize 1.45 million bound pages of research material from parks and universities across the country. For more information on our digitization facility and process visit our Clemson digital collections page.
In the News
- Slate, Five more compelling digital history sites we loved in 2016, January 5, 2017
- FreeTechnology4Teachers, 200,000 Free National Parks Images
- Outside Magazine, Old-School Gems from the Ultimate National Parks Archive
- Smithsonian Magazine, You Can Thank These Depression-Era Workers for Your National Parks: Daily life in the Civilian Conservation Corps is preserved in a new National Park Service archive, August 30, 2016
- OpenCulture, Download 100,000 Photos of 20 Great U.S. National Parks, Courtesy of the U.S. National Park Service, August 29, 2016
- Greenville Journal, Clemson technologists create digital archive for national parks, August 25, 2016
- DailyMail, Southern belles, friendly bear cubs and picnics in a more innocent time: Stunning archive photos document a century of US national parks…, August 27, 2016
- Digg, The Coolest Photos From The National Park Service’s Newly Digitized Historic Archives, August 25, 2016
- Palmetto Business Daily, Clemson helps set up new digital gallery of state and national parks, August 15, 2016
- Clemson and National Park Service unveil digital repository for national and state parks, August 11, 2016
- Clemson collaboration receives grant to digitize national park materials, October 13, 2010
- Clemson, National Park Service create information-sharing grid for park managers, users, researchers, March 16, 2010