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Posted on: April 14, 2020


Fort Taylor

 Yes, that headline says 30 million. A modest 2002 grant started something that grew quite big. Monroe County librarians and volunteers are celebrating (via Zoom, of course) the 30 millionth view of the library’s online historical photo archive, located at   

 “From day one, we’ve been scanning to Library of Congress archival standards and the image quality is captivating,” said Anne Layton Rice, Library Administrator, who wrote the federal grant to fund scanning equipment and training for staff. “We can see the medals on Civil War soldiers’ uniforms and read soup can labels on a 1900 bodega shelf.”

 Through generous donations of historic images and the work of a dedicated tribe of volunteers, the library increased its collection to more than 22,000 historical images, including some of the oldest images of South Florida. Florida Historian Tom Hambright painstakingly captions each image and archivist Breana Sowers assures that that historical artifacts are in good condition before handling.

 A donation from the Margo Golan Trust and funding from the Key West Friends of the Library have expanded scanning and cataloging efforts. Seven scanners, from microfilm to broadsheet size, has been in constant use and the Library was recently invited to submit its archival scans to the prestigious Digital Public Library of America.

 Images from the collection have been published in Newsweek, The Smithsonian, The Guardian, and Nature as well as featured on Animal Planet, the BBC, Food Network, NPR, Travel Channel, and CNN, among others.