Bryan Colvin, the new Mercyhurst University archivist, began his first four months with a huge and lasting project in digitizing old Merciad newspapers. The project included hundreds of student-written papers from 1929 to 1980 that have been in the library archives for years.
“The reason why I wanted to turn the old prints digital is so that they become more accessible to the community at large,” Colvin said. “Having it put into a database makes it also searchable. Eventually, each subject heading of the paper will also be able to be searched. So it makes it easier for people who want to do research.”
Colvin faced some technological challenges when he was turning old Merciads into digital form.
“Some of the challenges were figuring out how to get them into the database and how it was going to work. A challenge still will be getting people to know about the project and how to use the database,” Colvin said.
There is still an issue with the database.
“It is kind of like a more complicated database, it is not as intuitive as you think. So that is a main issue right now,” Colvin said.
The process was not difficult in digitizing the newspapers, and most of them were completed before Colvin took over. Colvin was able to easily pick up where the former archivist left off and plans to have print Merciads from 1981 to present available to students in the coming months.
While Colvin was completing this project, he found some interesting information about the history of the Merciad.
“It was interesting to see how it evolved I think over time,” Colvin said. “I did not know that the paper started in 1929. So I did look at the first page of every one. And I thought that is was interesting how it evolved from being an all-girls school into co-ed and adding sports teams.”
There are several ways to read and research using print Merciads from the past.
They will be available through the main archives website at archives.mercyhurst.edu, or through the Mercyhurst University library website, listed under University Archives. There is a link on to the top of the library page to the digital database. By clicking Merciad Digital, interested readers can view any Merciad from 1929 until 1980, with 1981-present coming soon.
The current Merciad editor-in-chief, Lauren Abbott, spoke with Colvin about information going forward, so future issues will be made digital and will not be missed in the coming years.