CPL and The Cleveland Orchestra Partner to Digitize and Release Orchestra’s Archival Scrapbooks

Illustration of an eye in a circle with a strip of film in front of it - frames depicting a stick figure dancingCleveland Public Library and The Cleveland Orchestra are pleased to announce the public release of the first wave of digitized materials from The Cleveland Orchestra Archives’ News and Reviews Collection during National Archives Month (October), which is available now to the public for free. The overarching collection contains thousands of articles, reviews, and ephemera documenting the Orchestra’s 100-year history, and its digitization represents a successful collaborative partnership between two longstanding Cleveland institutions.

The Orchestra contracted with the Cleveland Digital Public Library to digitize its entire collection of 354 scrapbooks totaling approximately 40,000 pages, as well as an additional 28 linear feet of clippings. By digitizing its archives, the Orchestra is able to increase free public access to its collection while reducing the handling of physical materials. The Library will not only digitize these valuable assets, but will also host the materials online for scholars, news media, musicologists, and fans of the Orchestra to search and view.

“Here we have two established and venerated Cleveland institutions working together on one monumental project,” says Andria Hoy, Archivist at The Cleveland Orchestra. “We were thrilled to learn we could fulfill our digitization needs right here at home by working with Cleveland Public Library, one of our nation’s finest public research libraries. The Library has helped make this digitization process seamless, and we’re excited to release the first portion of materials to the public.”

The entire digitization project is estimated to take between three and four years to complete, with additional scrapbooks released on the Library’s Digital Gallery over time. All content will be processed for Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to ensure the materials are fully text-searchable. The content released in this first round may be viewed now online.

“The Cleveland Orchestra is a world-class institution and a vital part of our city’s culture, and we’re honored to help preserve the Orchestra’s history,” says Rachel Senese, Cleveland Digital Public Library Coordinator. “This partnership also aligns with the Library’s strategic priority to cultivate a global perspective, as well as our guiding principle to provide equal access to information. Finally, our partnership with the Orchestra is part of the Library’s larger effort to help strengthen anchor institutions in Cleveland and preserve our city’s history and stories.”

The Cleveland Orchestra embarked on a national search for a digitization partner several years ago and ultimately selected the Cleveland Digital Public Library based on the Library’s strong reputation, its price-per-page cost, and its proximity to the Orchestra. Selecting a local partner in Cleveland allows the Orchestra to save on shipping and insurance costs while only parting with small sections of the collection at a time during the digitization process.

According to Hoy, The Cleveland Orchestra Archives’s News and Review Collection has significant value that encompasses the music community and Cleveland music history, and could be used for socioeconomic research and analysis. Making these scrapbooks available online increases their impact as a resource while preserving them for many years to come. In this initial October release of materials, scrapbooks from the Orchestra’s 1965 European tour are of particular note, showcasing the ensemble’s long history of serving as ambassadors for Northeast Ohio while traveling across the globe.