MNU news

MNU Launches Digitization Project Upon Receiving $11K Grant

MidAmerica Nazarene University recently announced its plan to give researchers, educators and the community online access to manuscripts in its archives. The Digitizing for 21st Century Access project will transfer paper documents in the Marge Smith Archives at MNU to microfilm for long-term preservation and to a digital format for scholarly access via the Internet. The university credits the Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund (JCHTF) and Board of County Commissioners for the funding to launch the project through an $11,000 grant.

The archives hold four primary collections. The MNU collection consists of items documenting the early years of the university through the present. The Donald S. Metz Rare Book Room contains nearly 8,000 volumes. The Dobson Bible Collection includes 40 Bibles, some in foreign languages and Braille, and the Vennard College Collection documents a now closed Iowa college. As a whole, the Marge Smith Archives give insight to the Midwestern values that spawned two small, private universities as well as the associated growth of the communities surrounding them.

University archivist and project director Lon Dagley expects three main groups will find the digital collection highly useful.

“MNU students and faculty as well as researchers interested in Kansas history or small private colleges will benefit from the digitization of these documents,” Dagley states. “But we also expect middle school students in Johnson County to access the collection since State standards require seventh grade students to study Kansas history since 1950.”

To that end MNU’s campus visit office is partnering with the School of Education and the Marge Smith Archives to plan a field-trip experience for social studies teachers and their students. The visits will include a tour of the archives to see the artifacts and an instructional component guided by MNU teacher education students. Dagley expects the archives will be ready to host such field trips by next fall.

As a result of a previous grant from the JCHTF, the collections are now stored according to archival standards. Dagley’s primary concern now is to ensure the longevity and online ease of access to the manuscripts in the archives. The digitization process begins this month and the documents deemed most important to the project will be completed in December. Additional documents will be transferred to digital media in an ongoing process.

Teachers interested in scheduling a field trip to the Marge Smith Archives may contact the campus visit experience office at (913) 971-3380. Researchers and others interested in the archives should contact Lon Dagley at (913) 971-3566.

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