IST Students Help in Preservation of Club's History

Students in Mike Manojlovich's Information Sciences and Technology (IST) 440W class spent the fall semester helping the LaRosa McKeesport Boys and Girls Club preserve its 60-year history. The class was divided into two work groups with one group concentrating on the club's newly donated multimedia computer lab and the other group worked on methods of preserving the club's history.

The LaRosa Boys and Girls club recently held its six-decade anniversary celebration. Students in the IST 440W class, led by Michele Capezzuto, History Project manager, examined an extensive amount of historical artifacts at the agency. Much of the club's history was kept in scrapbooks or in boxes and had to be identified and catalogued before the preservation process could begin.

The other History Team members, Richard Cummings, Ramon Ecung, Dennis Wheeler, Mark Martinell and Sara Saloga, encountered several problems as they proceeded with the project. Deterioration of some of the older materials was one of the biggest issues. Newspaper clippings and photos had started to yellow and fray from age. The historical background or purpose of many of the trophies and plaques in storage could not be identified and photos could not be catalogued because no caption existed and the subject(s) of the photograph was not recognized by present club employees and members.

Working at the club a minimum of one day a week, and conducting strategy sessions at the Penn State McKeesport campus afforded teammates the opportunity to work on a plan for implementing their project. Because of the extensive history of the Boys' Club and the time constraints on the group, project members decided to devote their energies to documenting information from the 1970s and providing a framework for future interns or club members to continue the preservation process. Memorabilia was digitally saved through photographs, coded and organized through the free Picasa software program, downloaded from the Google Web site.

Histroy Project members presented their project outcome to the campus community during a class session attended by Thomas Maglicco, Boys and Girls Club executive director. Team members recommended the club employ a full-time intern for academic credit to work with club members to continue the history preservation project. They also delivered a CD documenting the work completed to date and a "how to" tutorial for continuing the process. Team members recommended a method of identifying, preserving and storing all newly acquired information to eliminate the need to constantly be working backwards in the documentation process.

The second class project involving the local agency was spearheaded by the IST 440W multimedia team headed by project manager Matt Galeza. The team, composed of IST students William Stevens, Richard Kirsch, Richard Cummings and Nate Mabrey audited the hardware, software and software media recently obtained through a $10,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation provided hundreds of completely new wireless computer labs for Boys and Girls Clubs of America scattered all over the nation. The McKeesport-based lab consisted of 10 desktop machines, a server, scanner, printer, digital cameras and digital video camera as well as a wireless network.

The team worked together to develop a networking strategy for the new computers, mapping the computer drives and devising a plan for information storage and backup. An evaluation of the equipment was used to locate potential problems in hardware and software and to identify software that would help in the development of the club's archive. IST team members also provided multimedia training to club employees and members.

Recommendations of the multimedia work group included upgrading the club's Web site by registering a personal domain to display local history and information specific to the McKeesport-based agency Recognizing the limited storage capacity of the club's local server, team members recommended using the unlimited storage capabilities available through the use of the national organization's equipment.

Manojlovich, who guided the students through their collaboration with the local agency, hopes to continue the partnership by providing IST student interns and continuing consultation with the executive director of the club. Manojlovich added that his work "was minimal and consisted of some guidance and clearing up vague requirements. It was by far the students who did all the heavy lifting on this. Their completed projects show that our McKeesport Campus students have the capability to compete with any other local university's students in real-world settings, finding solutions to real-world problems."

Penn State McKeesport has prioritized partnerships with local business, industry and nonprofit agencies as part of its mission statement.