Krompart-Hildebrand Digitization Lab opens in Kresge


Nowshin Chowdhury

Dean Stephen Weiter, donor Lee Krompart and Linda Hildbrand cut the ribbon to the Krompart-Hildebrand Digitization Lab.

Paige Brockway, Editor-in-Chief

The basement of Kresge Library holds many hidden gems: private study rooms, vending machines that sell cheaper coffee than the café upstairs, Oakland University Archives and, now, the Krompart-Hildebrand Digitization Lab.

The brand-new lab now occupies Room 129 and was made possible through a financial gift from Janet, Lee and Leona Krompart in honor of Linda Hildebrand. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Aug. 26 to celebrate its opening.

The lab’s first project will be the digitization of The Oakland Post and its previous iterations, The Oakland Sail, Focus: Oakland and The Observer. A portion of the donation will go toward outsourcing the work of digitizing the papers, a process that will begin this semester.

“Next time the university celebrates, [for example] its 60th anniversary, they will have newspapers from the early days to actually look at,” Hildebrand said.

Photo collections and other historical items and images stored in the OU Archives will also be digitized using a BookDrive Pro, which is essentially a large, high-quality scanner made by Atiz Innovation.

“Digitization itself isn’t preservation,” said Dean of University Libraries Stephen Weiter, “but reduces wear and tear on the originals. At the same time, this makes them widely available . . . and that really allows us to unlock the potential for those collections as educational and scholarly resources.”

Students, faculty, staff and community members will all have online access to the digitized archives.

The ribbon cutting was made complete with a video message from Janet Krompart, who now lives in Glenview, IL. Krompart’s son and daughter-in-law, Lee and Leona Krompart, attended the event.

Retired Professors Janet Krompart and Linda Hildebrand worked together in Kresge Library from the late ’70s to mid-’90s.

“That friendship endures today despite time and distance,” Weiter said.

Today, Hildebrand continues to volunteer her time in the OU Archives. She last saw Krompart in May 2015, when she visited her in Illinois.

After the ceremony, friends and family gathered to record a video response to Janet Krompart: “Hi Janet. We love you. Thank you.”