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Historical Society continues digitization efforts

Old and fragile volumes of minutes from Contra Costa County Courthouse. (TASHINA MANYAK / Martinez Tribune)
Old and fragile volumes of minutes from Contra Costa County Courthouse. (TASHINA MANYAK / Martinez Tribune)
By TASHINA MANYAK
Martinez Tribune

The Contra Costa County Historical Society located in downtown Martinez hosted a Scan-a-Thon event on Saturday, March 19, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Society recently obtained new, high-grade scanners that can digitize entire books. President of the Society Scott Saftler showcased the various scanners and their capabilities.

“Anyone can buy a scanner! A regular scanner’s just about $100 bucks,” Saftler said, as he proudly showed off the machines.

But these are not any ordinary scanners.

“Over here, we have a great one that’s able to do a full page negative,” he continued.

Saftler came to a scanner in a league of its own, bought used from the Lesher Center for $15,000.

“You can do whole books and it’s set up to protect the very fragile pages of old documents,” Saftler said, pointing out where flakes of delicate old pages had accumulated on the floor.

During the Scan-a-Thon, this high grade scanner and scanning technicians were made available to Contra Costa residents.

The Society invited residents to bring in photographs, letters, mementos, and other paper ephemera that may impart a little bit of Contra Costa history.

Saftler believes there’s a wealth of untapped history floating around in people’s personal belongings.

“There are a few groups on Facebook for local history lovers and you’ll see these amazing photos circulating. I would love to have access to these pictures or at least have some way of knowing where they are,” he said.

The ultimate goal is to digitize the center’s immense collections.

“Digitizing is the best way of preserving – quick and dirty!” Saftler said, confirming that the long-term vision is to transform the center’s wall-to-wall volumes into digital content, easily accessible online.

President of the Contra Costa County Historical Society, Scott Saftler, stands next to one of the $15,000 scanners the Center uses to digitize historical documents and photographs. (TASHINA MANYAK / Martinez Tribune)
President of the Contra Costa County Historical Society, Scott Saftler, stands next to one of the $15,000 scanners the Center uses to digitize historical documents and photographs. (TASHINA MANYAK / Martinez Tribune)

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