An ongoing preservation project will allow the city of Delaware to put more than a century of records in its residents' hands.
The city announced this month city records from 1857-92 have been scanned by Boston-based information management firm Iron Mountain and are available upon request.
Residents can ask for digital copies of the documents on a CD or flash drive from the city manager's office.
Michele Kohler, executive assistant in the city manager's office, began the process of digitizing the city's records five years ago.
Scanning documents from 1937 and later was easy, although time-consuming, but documents from 1936 and earlier presented additional challenges.
The city began typing records in 1937. Previously, city officials transcribed meeting minutes, resolutions and ordinances by hand in large, leather-bound books.
Kohler said the large size and delicate conditions of the volumes required the city to seek outside help with the scanning process.
With $2,000 in grant funding from the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board, city officials contracted Iron Mountain for the job last fall.
Kohler said the city has earmarked $6,300 to pay the company to digitize its remaining pre-1937 records this year. "That takes care of everything from the 1800s to now," she said.
Kohler said records run the gamut from informative to interesting. She said history buffs and developers alike might want to check on the history of a particular property or street.
Kohler said the documents give details about how the city was built over time.
She read from an ordinance from the 1800s that created Franklin Street, calling for "graveling" and "guttering" of the new road.
As Iron Mountain begins work on digitizing the final batch of city documents, city officials are contemplating what to do with the physical copies.
Kohler said the books, which have been stored on shelves in the basement of City Hall, could find a new home in the coming months.
"From what I've been told, they probably need to be kept in a temperature-controlled environment," she said.
While city officials determine where the documents will be moved, the city's information technology staff is determining the most cost-effective way to host the documents online, Kohler said. She said the hope is to allow people to download all of the city's digitized records from home.
Kohler said Iron Mountain should finish scanning the final group of documents by the end of April.
City spokesman Lee Yoakum said officials view the project as a way to ensure Delaware's history remains within the reach of future generations.
"We very much consider this to be a legacy project -- one of those neat things we can do that will outlast our time in the city," he said.
Residents can request digital copies of records by calling the city manager's office at 740-203-1010 or sending an e-mail to cmo@ delawareohio.net.