On June 1, 2018, the Digitized Okanagan History project team and our community partners met for a full day of learning and discussion at UBC Okanagan. It was an opportunity to provide updates on the project and to outline our vision for future work together. A total of 39 people participated in the event representing 19 memory institutions throughout the Okanagan Valley.

The day began with introductions and welcomes from Heather Berringer, the UBC Okanagan Chief Librarian, and Chris Hives, the UBC University Archivist. Sunni Nishimura from Arca BC presented via videoconference about Arca, which is a collaborative digital repository currently used by post-secondary libraries and institutions such as Digitized Okanagan History. She highlighted the breadth of Arca’s collection, which includes about 150,000 objects, and emphasized its relationship to the BC Digital Library that is being developed to support streamlined access to collections across the province.

During the 2017 collecting season, DOH visited 11 partners in the Okanagan region.Paige Hohmann, Archivist, Records Manager, and Special Collections Librarian at UBC Okanagan took the stage next to provide an update on the current status of the Digitized Okanagan History Project. She described an emerging annual timeline for the project, which will involve collecting materials from May – December, processing materials from September – April, and planning upcoming projects in January – April. Paige highlighted that there are already 5,052 items in the DOH Arca repository, with thousands more digitized and awaiting processing.

Given time to provide feedback, our DOH partners commented on the professionalism displayed by our student team during our site visits last summer. Participants also discussed a desire to get more involved in the metadata review process for collections, a key take-away that our team is now discussing.

Before lunch, Allison Jones, Graduate Project Assistant for DOH, spoke about our new social media and communications plans. DOH has recently launched our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles, and will be using them to promote materials from Arca. We are also improving our website analytics tools to enable us to understand what pages on our website are most popular, what people are searching for in Arca, and how to improve the user experience on our website.

During lunch, our partners were treated to a tour of our digitization office by Allison Jones, Emma Smith, and Eamon Riordan-Short, and we stopped outside for a group photo opportunity.

After lunch, Paige provided a tutorial on searching Arca, and partners had the chance to fill out feedback forms on the project.

Deborah Buszard, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of UBC Okanagan, stopped by to speak to the group and shared her enthusiasm for the DOH project, which she considers one of the most exciting community partnership projects on campus. Dr. Buszard emphasized the importance of learning from the past and the crucial role that universities play in supporting cultural projects.

Finally, we finished the day with a conversation facilitated by Chris Hives about some of DOH’s future directions. When asked how far we have gotten through digitizing our partners’ collections, attendees responded that DOH’s work so far has been phenomenal, but is only a drop in the bucket. They hold lots more important historical materials to be digitized in future.

Chris also shared our plans to hire a Newspaper Digitization Research Intern from September to December 2018, in order to evaluate the feasibility of digitizing Okanagan newspapers. If you’re a recent MAS or MLIS graduate reading this and looking for work this autumn – we’d love to see you apply!

We would like to thank the Okanagan Historical Society and the UBC Community Engagement Partnership Recognition Fund for their generous support that made this gathering possible.