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WPL completes yearbook digitization with Digital Commonwealth

Date: 4/17/2012

April 16, 2012

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM — Can't find that old high school yearbook among the musty boxes in the attic or had it ruined when your basement flooded?

Never fear, the Wilbraham Public Library (WPL) is ready to help.

WPL recently completed a project in conjunction with Digital Commonwealth and the Boston Public Library to upload more than 50 years' worth of yearbooks to the Internet thanks to a grant made possible by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and funded by the Library Services and Technology Act.

"It was originally an idea [Library Director] Karen [Demers] had," Mary Bell, adult services librarian, told Reminder Publications. "Digital Commonwealth was offering help through a grant to those who joined for digitization of documents through the Boston Public Library. We looked at what we had and decided to take advantage of it."

What the library had was a large collection of Minnechaug Regional High School yearbooks dating pack to 1961, which the staff decided to digitize for easy reference.

The collection includes every yearbook from 1961 to 2011, the most recent graduation year.

"We had almost every issue and the ones we didn't have we were able to acquire from the high school," Bell said. "The Boston Public Library did all of the pick up and actually had them sent to a company in California where they were digitized."

She also said the timing of the project fits in well with the construction of the new Minnechaug and the dismantling of the old school building.

"With the new school coming in, it seems like a very appropriate time to have a service like this that will allow people to take a look back at the past," Bell said.

While a relatively new addition to the library website, the yearbook section has become a popular destination. Every issue has been downloaded at least once, while 1970 and 1975 have proven to be the two most popular years.

"The response has been really good," Bell said. "We put an announcement for it up on our Facebook page and have gotten a lot of good feedback. One person thanked us because she had lost hers in a fire and some other people, I think, just like taking walks down memory lane."

She indicated she was not sure if future issues of the yearbook would be added to the online collection regularly.

"I don't know, but I certainly hope so, based on the response we've gotten," she said.

Whether it be more yearbooks or other pictures and documents, Bell said residents should check the website regularly for new additions.

"We're always trying to put new things out there on our local history page," she said.

To view the yearbooks, which can be viewed though an Internet browser as well as downloaded in several different formats, including PDF and for Kindle, visit the following website,

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