Clarion University faculty and graduate students from the library science department will soon help tell a pivotal story of Pennsylvania history. Working with the staff of the Drake Well Museum in Titusville, which celebrates Edwin Drake's discovery of oil in 1859, the students and professors will digitally index a collection of patents related to the oil and gas industries.
Collected in 14 volumes, John H. Scheide of Titusville donated the patents to the museum in 1940. Early examination of the patents reveals documents from as early as 1881, covering a variety of processes and equipment.
"We won't really know the full extent of topics covered or the time period of the patents until the project is completed," said Dr. James Maccaferri, one of the library science faculty members overseeing the project. At present, the patents are disorganized, slowing the research process significantly. Under Maccaferri's direction, library science graduate students will use professional indexing software to organize the various patents by name, title and subject. The index will increase research accessibility immeasurably.
Apart from the indexing, library science professor Dr. Rhonda Clark plans to create a local history thesaurus of Pennsylvania's oil region. This thesaurus will serve as a guide for the indexing of people, firms and subjects related to the region and its history. In addition to its value for this project, Clark believes the thesaurus will be useful for other researchers and cultural institutions in the future.
These types of projects, said Maccaferri, "provide students with the opportunity to learn a variety of professional skills while making a tangible and permanent contribution to the region."
Clarion University's library science master's program is accredited by the American Library Association and has been selected as a "Best Buy" by GetEducated.com.
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