Candle and Books (EKIS)

Behind the Scenes . . .

In the Early Kansas Imprint Scanners (EKIS) workshop, volunteers use scanners to make electronic copies of materials such as books and photographs, proof any text, and then add web designs to include these works in the Kansas Collection. Here's a look at what the volunteers are up to, behind the scenes:

       Notes from around EKIS:
         Recognition from the Library of Congress, the
         Andreas (Cutler's) History of the State of Kansas,
         and EKIS projects in progress

       Volunteer Spotlight:   Meet Dick Taylor

Notes from around EKIS

The Library of Congress featured KanColl in its "Today in History" page for Kansas Day, January 29, as a resource for online materials about Kansas history. This meant a lot to the EKIS volunteers who have worked so hard! We were reminded of the preface to Miriam Colt's book, Went to Kansas. Mrs. Colt wrote that her book was not for the millions of course, but hoped her friends would read it. Today, her book is online in KanColl and freely available to millions of people across the world. Her story is still told, and she is not forgotten; we can still learn from the experiences she went through, and how she stood up to them. The Internet is truly amazing, both in terms of what it provides and what it makes possible -- such as hearing these voices from the past, and what they have to say to us.....The EKIS volunteers working on Cutler's History of the State of Kansas continue to push hard to finish up this massive book. More counties have been sent in and are being coded for installation in KanColl, as well as some sections of the general state history.....Elsewhere in the EKIS workshop, Kathleen Roper has started scanning Elizabeth Custer's Tenting on the Plains, Mary Ann Thompson is polishing up Elfreida Rowe's Wonderful Old Lawrence, and George Nelson is scanning Capt. Randolph Barnes Marcy's Thirty Years of Army Life on the Border while Dwayne Crandall works on another book by Capt. (later Brigadier General) Marcy, Red River Explorations. Many more works are in progress, and we have welcomed some new volunteers as well! Some of our EKIS volunteers have also donated materials to KanColl -- Matt Balocca provided us with the Memorial Book for Capt. E. C. D. Lines, a military hero of the Civil War, and John Maier donated a wedding announcement from a 1902 newspaper, which shows how different things were back then! John, by the way, is celebrating with the rest of the folks in John's home town, Hill City, Kansas: the city's high school basketball team won the State 2A Championship! Congratulations to both the team and all the folks who call Hill City home.

We are, as always, very grateful to our volunteers and contributors -- they keep the workshop humming!

Volunteer Spotlight:   Meet Dick Taylor

     In this issue, we are pleased to feature a very special volunteer: our Director, Dick Taylor. It took some doing to get him to agree (he's not very comfortable in the spotlight), but we perservered and finally got him to allow us to include him here. EKIS and KanColl are blessed with an unusually talented, cheerful and hard-working group of volunteers; Dick will tell you that they have done all the work and made the sites what they are today. But here, as Paul Harvey might say, is "the rest of the story"...

     When Lynn Nelson asked Dick Taylor, an All-City fullback in high school and former Naval aviator, to manage the Early Kansas Imprint Scanners project, Dick could "pronounce HTML but didn't know how to spell it"! But he had time, having just retired as a troubleshooter for IBM, and he had creativity, the ability to learn quickly, and an interest in things related to computers. Most of all, he had a deep love of history, especially the histories of the Great Plains states.

     Dick's ancestors were early settlers in the lands that became Kansas and Nebraska. He was born in Nebraska and grew up in both Nebraska and Kansas; he cheers for the Cornhuskers in football and the Jayhawks in basketball. Today he lives about an hour from Lawrence, Kansas, but has relatives living in Pawnee county, Nebraska. So it was only natural that his work with EKIS and KanColl would lead to creating Nebraska's Heritage Village website, and that KanColl's transcription of the Andreas (Cutler's) History of the State of Kansas would be joined by a transcription of the Andreas (Cutler's) History of the State of Nebraska.

     But that was later.

     In 1994, when EKIS manager Steve Chinn left to concentrate on expanding his Kansas Heritage website, Lynn asked Dick to become the next manager. In a few short months, Dick forged a network of energetic volunteers, learned HTML and web development, and was building a sizeable collection of online books, articles, maps and other materials. Along the way, he discovered he had an uncanny talent for transcribing rapidly and accurately -- Dick can correct text almost clairvoyantly.

     A few months after taking on EKIS, a manager also was needed for the Kansas Collection. Dick began managing KanColl too, as a showcase for the materials being produced by EKIS volunteers. In those early days, he worked with volunteers and contributors, wrote, transcribed, promoted the site, and designed web pages (some of the web techniques that he pioneered at EKIS/KanColl are regarded as new even today).

     In 1996, Dick finally recruited an assistant manager to help with the thriving websites. This was supposed to give him a much needed break. However, he still serves as the Director of EKIS/KanColl, and maintains other websites such as the very popular GHOSTCHASER genealogical site.

     His solid values, agile sense of humor, and interest in helping people have molded EKIS and KanColl into, as a Library of Congress representative put it, "a true treasure of the World Wide Web." You will see all of these qualities reflected if you look around KanColl -- the volunteers who work so tirelessly without compensation, the contributors eager to preserve personal histories, the voices from the past who instead of being lost can still be heard today. You will see history presented as interesting stories, often by those who experienced the events first-hand. You will find the "Heroes and Villains" gallery, which grew out of Dick's desire to remind the present generation of some of the extraordinary people who lived years ago, so they would not be forgotten -- here are inspirational stories of persons who worked earnestly to do the right thing, and a few cautionary tales about those who took the wrong path. You will find humor, warmth, innovation, a dedication to excellence, a belief in what's right, a love of history and families -- in short, you will find Dick Taylor ... this issue's "Volunteer in the Spotlight."

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