UC Merced made its first appearance at the annual World Ag Expo in Tulare earlier this month to spread the word about the library’s new digitization project to collect and preserve 100 years of data, documents and photos from the UC’s Cooperative Extension.
The new project will collect 100 years’ worth of reports and historic photographs from 20 California counties — in the Central Valley, along the coast, up north at the edges of the Sierra and along the southern border — and will geocode all the records.
Emily Lin, UC Merced Library’s head of Digital Curation and Scholarship, along with colleagues from the Library, Admissions, CITRIS and Development, and students from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), staffed UC Merced’s booth in the education-and careers pavilion, where they were in good company with other colleges and universities such as UC Davis, Fresno State and campuses from Utah, Oregon and Arizona.
“People said ‘you’re finally here!’” Lin said. “There were a lot of school groups and industry representatives who were really happy to see our presence there. Some of the companies came looking for students for internships and jobs, too.”
The expo draws more than 1,500 exhibitors displaying agricultural technology and equipment, and last year, more than 105,000 people came from 43 states and 71 countries to attend.
Lin said she and her colleagues met people with deep ties to agriculture in the Valley who showed a lot of interest in the digitization project. The project will provide access to a multitude of documents that help paint a clearer picture of the nature and development of agriculture in the region and how agriculture helped transform California into an economic powerhouse in the world.
The digital archives will be of use to researchers from a variety of disciplines, from the humanities, history and interrelated topics of democracy, technology and community to public policy, environmental and climate studies, economics and labor markets and geography.
“We’re already thinking about next year and the possibilities of demonstrating some of UC Merced’s research in engineering and precision ag,” Lin said. “UC Merced should continue to have a large presence there, because it’s a great opportunity to highlight important work happening at the university.”