Sharing island treasures

Without the support of a UBC-based program, the rich visual history of a local island community would remain confined to thousands of aging film negatives.

Thanks to the B.C. History Digitization Program and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, photos of local events, people and ceremonies from Salt Spring Island, along with aerial shots from years past, will soon be available for viewing online.

The program has provided a matching grant of $10,000 to the Salt Spring Archives for a project that involves the digitization of 15,000 negatives from local photojournalist Marshall Sharp. The photos date from 1958 to 1973. (Digitization refers to the conversion of analogue objects – such as books, journals, audio and video recordings – into digital formats that can be accessed by anyone with a computer and an Internet connection.)

“[Our project] wouldn’t have happened otherwise, because we needed to acquire additional equipment,” says Barbara Dumoulin, secretary of the Salt Spring Island Historical Society, and a grant writer and volunteer archivist for the Salt Spring Archives.

The funding enabled the organization to purchase two additional scanners; so far, about 8,000 negatives have been scanned and Dumoulin hopes to have the rest completed by the end of the year. (Salt Spring Archives also received digitization program support for a 2007 project).

The Salt Spring Island initiative is one of 14 projects throughout British Columbia that received funding from the digitization program, launched by the Learning Centre in 2006. Since then, 52 projects around the province have received more than $450,000 in total funding, underlining the Learning Centre’s commitment to community engagement

“We continue to be pleased with the breadth of material represented in this year’s group of applications,” says Chris Hives, University Archivist. “In addition to several photographic digitization projects, there have also been requests for funding to support the digitization of community newspapers and publications, oral histories, early British Columbia documents and graphic materials.”

The assistance allows recipients to make the fascinating stories of B.C. communities accessible for audiences throughout the province and beyond.

“A number of us are smaller archives, and we rely on funding through grants,” says Dumoulin.

For more information, and a complete listing of all projects, please visit www.ikebarberlearningcentre.ubc.