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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The "new" Digital Shoebox

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, May 22, 2016

The library system’s “Digital Shoebox” is an online system which houses items of local and regional historical interest.  It can be found at


Our library system became the owner of the Digital Shoebox in 2006 when the SOLO Regional Library System closed and its assets were distributed to the member libraries.


Last year, the time had arrived to upgrade both the operating software and hardware of the “Shoebox” as we call it, and decide what to do with it.


Originally, there were 12 public libraries in southeastern Ohio that were part of the “Shoebox,” but some of those libraries established their own online databases and moved their data to their own internal systems.


Two more libraries simply removed and deleted their files, leaving seven libraries in the “Shoebox.”


The remaining libraries contracted with us to upgrade the “Shoebox” to OCLC ContentDM software and physically move the data to super computers in Columbus.


Today, the “Shoebox” has more than 80,000 pages of information with most of it belonging to the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.


After training on the new software, the first thing we did was load the most recent data, which was digitized and added to our Local History and Genealogy Collection in paper format, as well as the online version.


The “Shoebox” is divided by library, and then separated by the titles of each item online.  We have a second file of images, where new images will now be added locally by our own staff.


More extensive indexing and editing will be done to the basic information as time permits.


The recent files of new data is contained in 36 books added to the system, some of which were shared by the Jefferson County Law Library of items identified by the State Library of Ohio as unavailable in a digitized format elsewhere.


The first item on the list of new items includes the final volume of Sandy Day’s “Jefferson County, Ohio Veterans series, which includes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Sandy completed this work before her retirement from the library system, and she has every reason to be proud of her series which will live on forever and serve as a basis of information to our county veterans.


Several church histories have been added and indexed, including the Church of God in Amsterdam, Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church, St. Johns Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Andrews Orthodox Church, and Wintersville United Methodist Church.


From the Law Library, we added Ohio Laws from the 1820s, Ordinances of the City of Steubenville from 1868 and 1885, Transportation Laws from the 19th century, and the Ohio Officer’s Handbook from 1835.


We also added court papers that had been developed by John J. Scott in the 1930s as they were unique and not available digitized elsewhere.  We also thought they would be of local interest as they were authored by the namesake for our local street.


Two more items of local interest include a newspaper series published in conjunction with the Steubenville Sesqui-centennial in 1947 were assembled and indexed.


The other item is a program booklet from the 1953 “50th anniversary celebration of the Steubenville Musicians Association.


The new software will allow the library to gather local items of interest, and add them to the “Shoebox.”  We will also be able to do “road shows” to scan and digitize items belonging to residents, which can then be returned to the owner.


How many valuable items of local interest are tossed away every year, and lost forever?