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Article updated: 11/15/2012 9:47 AM

Hampshire's library asking for items of yore

By Lenore T. Adkins

The days of handling old photographs and archives with care are over for patrons at the Ella Johnson Memorial Public Library District in Hampshire.

The library recently uploaded three digital albums to Illinois Digital Archives, which lets everyone learn about the area's history using the library's online collection of digital images. But district officials need patrons to help build the library's digital collection. And to do that, the library is holding a digital donation day from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

Those who live in the library district are asked to take paintings, photographs, letters, post cards, scrapbooks and church bulletins as well as three-dimensional items to the library on Saturday. Items from towns that no longer exist, such as Henpeck, Old Starks, New Starks and Pigeon Woods, are also welcome.

"We're really excited to give this new thing a try and see what sort of hidden treasures we can find," Library Director Carol Schrey said.

You won't even need to part with your prized possessions. A staff member will photograph your items and give them right back to you. There are no fees. Later on, the library will post items for all to use and see online.

The district offers a historic collection, an images collection and a third collection that will focus on the Grand Army of the Republic Post 453, an organization for Civil War veterans.

"It's a treasure trove of information," said Kelly Sheahan, the district's reference specialist.

This marks the first time the district has turned to the community for help on this endeavor.

"I always felt that the historical collection is fantastic but no one knows about it," Sheahan said. "We're moving into a digital age, so it's only reasonable that we move the historic collection into the digital age as well."

Several other municipalities and library districts have uploaded images of their own to Illinois Digital Archives, including Arlington Heights, Algonquin, Dundee Township, Elgin, the Gail Borden Library District in Elgin, Huntley, Itasca, Lake County, Lake in the Hills, Libertyville and Naperville.

The Ella Johnson Memorial Public Library District serves more than 16,000 people in Hampshire, Pingree Grove, Burlington and parts of Elgin and Huntley.

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