Backed by a state grant, the Pickerington Public Library launched the next phase of an ongoing project to digitally preserve local history and create wide access to the collection.

Last April, the State Library of Ohio awarded the library a $4,804 Library Services and Technology Act grant to purchase an archival-scanner and other computer equipment to help the library take its digital catalog of local history to new heights.

The grant also propelled partnerships -- both new and renewed -- with the Columbus Metropolitan Library, the Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Society and the Violet Township Fire Department to gather images, documents and other pieces of local heritage and begin to catalog them electronically so they can be viewed online.

"(In 2016), we started inventorying our existing archival materials and found some really wonderful materials -- and some real need to get things preserved better," said Kent Daniels, the Pickerington library's assistant director.

"We also decided in 2016 that we wanted to get a digital presence on the Columbus Metropolitan Library's My History project," he said.

"We have so many great historical materials at our library. We want to grow that archival collection and make it available to all of our patrons."

Daniels said the Columbus Metropolitan Library administers the My History project, which provides access to historical items such as images, maps and artifacts from throughout central Ohio.

That archive, which includes snapshots of the histories of Pickerington and Violet Township is at

Locally, the Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Society is helping provide the library content for the digital archives, which can be accessed at http://pickeringtonlibrary. org/library-archives/.

The new scanner and computer have enabled the Pickerington Library to kick start its plans to significantly grow the amount of material in the digital collection.

Last May, library Community Relations Coordinator Colleen Bauman called the equipment "the backbone of all the digital work we will be doing for our archival collections."

Daniels said the library is working on digitizing "thousands of photos slides, documents and other items of cultural research significance to Pickerington, Violet Township and Fairfield County.

"The scanner is archival quality and the PC has the memory and performance necessary to process the work load," Daniels said.

"In the digital archives, there are currently right around 500 items.

"But we have just started and are looking forward to growing our offerings.

"Taking into account content from our active partners ... we probably have a collection of around 5,000 items to draw from," he said.

Daniels also said the digital archives provide 24/7 access to the material at no charge to patrons PPL library cardholders.