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Carnegie Library preserves the history of the local steel industry online

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has embarked on a unique project to digitally preserve the fragile history of the local steel and iron industry.

A $600,000 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services will fund a three-year program to transfer 400,000 pages of historic materials on the age of iron and steel to a digital, online format. Called the “Legacy of Iron and Steel” project, the program will offer wider access to the library’s unique and rich collection, which dates back to the 1800s and is too brittle for the general public to handle otherwise.

“Pittsburgh’s primary place in the industrial revolution is key in the development of our country, which gives it not only local but national significance,” explains Mary Frances Cooper, deputy director. “Our hope is to have a variety of items that will showcase the full range of what is happening here.”

The Carnegie Library also hopes to demonstrate to others how a public library can use an online format to generate interest in historic collections. A unique feature of the software will enable social networking, allowing customers to comment on and share stories about the items as well as connect with one another.

People love photographs and we hope this is something that will bring this history back to life for people, says Frances Cooper. “We really want to enable people to not only view it but interact with it and share stories which will only enhance the history.”

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Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Mary Frances Cooper, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Image courtesy Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh

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