Project History

Aerial view of the industrial harbourfront
Aerial view of Hamilton's industrial harbourfront

Since 1914, the Hamilton Public Library has been collecting and preserving scrapbooks, clipping files, archives, rare books, periodicals, historical memorabilia and pamphlets on a wide range of topics about Hamilton. The collection includes more than three million images depicting the history of the city and surrounding areas dating as far back as the mid-1800s.

The PreVIEW Digitization project started in October 2004 as a sustainable approach for digitization at the Hamilton Public Library.  Two dimensional, non-textual historical images, including photographs, negatives, glass negatives, posters, maps and post cards ranging from the 1850s to the 1950s were selected from the collection and targeted for digitization.

The project makes digital images accessible online, providing a resource for students, researchers, and educators as well as the general public.  It raises public awareness of the library’s tremendous resources through online exhibitions and library programs, and leads to substantially increased use.  Access is global, showcasing HPL's collection far beyond our traditional physical reach.  Digitization also enables the preservation and conservation of the library’s image collections, and affirms a responsibility to protect rare materials yet at the same time make them publicly accessible.

Our focus in the coming years will be to digitize more of the collection and make many of these treasures more accessible and available online with the use of digital formats. To date, more than 13,000 historical images are available online, with high-resolution copies available for purchase for private and commercial use.