Born-digital Publications on Ohio Memory

The State Library’s Digital Collection contains born-digital State of Ohio publications and documents.

In our last blog post, we wrote about field guides from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. These field guides are just one example of myriad digital State of Ohio publications archived on Ohio Memory. Today we’ll talk more about these digital state publications (also called state documents).

Annual reports are the bread and butter of state documents. If nothing else, an annual report gives an overview of events that happened at an agency and usually provides some statistical data for the year. Sometimes they even come with attractive covers, like this one! Via Ohio Memory.

The State Library of Ohio is responsible for collecting and making state documents from State of Ohio agencies, boards, bureaus and commissions available to the public. The State Library has a large collection of printed state documents starting from the early 19th century. We have digitized some of these documents, which are now publicly available on Ohio Memory.

However, for more than twenty years, the library has also collected and archived digital (or born-digital) state documents. Born-digital documents are those that were first created in a digital format, in this case for access and use on state agency websites, and may not have a print counterpart (the opposite of digitization!). The library then catalogs and archives these documents in Ohio Memory. These reside in the State Library’s largest collection on Ohio Memory, the State Library of Ohio Digital Collection. Yes, these may be available on agencies’ websites now, but when elective office terms come to an end, staff retire and turn over or agencies overhaul their websites, these state documents can be a lot more difficult to find.

Interested in the touristy goings-on during the fall of 2006 and winter of 2007? You’ll find it here! This and other Ohio calendar of events are housed in the State Library’s Digital Collection. Via Ohio Memory.

Archiving these documents in Ohio Memory ensures a longer life for state documents, which ultimately helps both state agencies and Ohio citizens alike. Librarians at the State Library use both the print and digitally archived state documents collections to answer reference questions for library patrons and state agencies. Examples of born-digital state documents on Ohio Memory include annual reports, tourism promotion and marketing materials, and various documents regarding state agencies’ responses to COVID-19.

With an eye toward the future, the State Library tries to capture state documents that will be considered historic in the future. With the pandemic this past year, some state agencies are understandably producing a bumper crop of documents, like this one from Ohio Department of Health! Via Ohio Memory.

While the documents in this blog post may seem mundane and common now, the work we are doing ensures that these will be available in a hundred years. These documents will be more “historic” to our descendants in the same way we appreciate this 1959 “See… Your Treasurer of State’s Office in Action” booklet, this 1915 official list of registered automobiles in Ohio or these Ohio State School of the Air materials. You never know what unique state documents you might stumble upon on Ohio Memory! Check back with us regularly to view new additions to our Digital Collection.


Thank you to Nicole Merriman, Head of Research & Catalog Services and Elissa Lawrence, Government Documents Librarian at the State Library of Ohio, for this week’s post!

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