Mar 8, 2024 - News

Library program lets you decide what's historic

The Ohio Statehouse and a bank tower seen behind autumn trees.

The Ohio Statehouse in fall 2003. The Columbus Metropolitan Library wants residents to submit streetscapes, family photos and other digital files to its My Upload program. Photo: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Columbus Metropolitan Library maintains a vast digital collection of 1.75 million old photos, postcards and newspapers ā€” and now invites the public to add their own.

Why it matters: The library system's My Upload program offers residents the chance to preserve memories and community landmarks for generations to come.

How it works: Residents can upload digital files of local photos, concert programs, ticket stubs and anything else of interest.

  • They can be old images or those taken as recently as today.
  • Librarians review all submissions to make sure they're relevant to the area.
  • Anyone can submit ā€” you don't need to have a library card. (But we do suggest one, for many reasons.)

Flashback: My Upload launched in early 2020 with a $27,500 grant from Lyrasis, a preservation nonprofit.

  • Initial submissions dealt with the local pandemic response and racial justice protests from that year, with photos of a taped-off McDonald's dining hall and a Black Lives Matter gathering at the Statehouse.

Zoom in: Other entries from the My Upload collection showcase a hodgepodge of snapshots past and present: a 1970s sale advertisement for a restaurant on Olentangy River Road, colorful photos of the Marysville Balloon Festival and a Columbus Chill hockey schedule from 1991.

  • There are also dozens of ordinary shots around downtown, which make for great "then and now" comparisons.

By the numbers: As of Thursday, 690 user submissions have been added to the archive.

What they're saying: Angela O'Neal, CML's manager of local history and genealogy, tells us her favorite thing about this "community collecting initiative" is residents get to share what is most important to them.

  • O'Neal also noted librarians "can't be at all events, [so] it is a great way for the community to make sure history is saved."

The bottom line: The contemporary world may not feel historic just yet, but it will some day.

  • This is an opportunity to add to a digital time capsule.
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