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Maine Company Digitizes Millions Of Artifacts For Baseball Hall Of Fame

BOSTON (CBS) - Making history more accessible. That is the business for Maine based History IT, and as WBZ business reporter Jeff Brown reports, they've now got a massive project on their hands.

There are more than three million artifacts housed in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Digitizing them is the job handed to Portland's History IT and its staff of less than three dozen. Daunting, but very exciting says CEO Kristen Gwinn-Becker.

"It is an involved process, an expensive process, but I would argue an absolutely necessary one if we are wanting to tell stories about the past," Gwinn-Becker said.

And Major League Baseball has a rich history to show, and tell.

Case in point, you want to see Babe Ruth's vaudeville act or his barnstorming tour overseas? Couple of strokes on the keyboard and you're there.

But with three million items to be digitized in a searchable format, where do you begin?

"We look at all of the possibilities and created a plan for developing it in increments or phases," Gwinn-Becker said.

But that doesn't mean there aren't challenges along the way.

"One is funding, but two, and a more difficult hurdle, is lack of understanding about what goes into creating that digital collection," she says.

So there is a mountain of work to do and one would imagine time has a tendency to slip away. More than three million items. Really?

"Yes that is the hope, that is the goal. The plan depending on fundraising is a three to five year implementation," she says.

And they have been working on this for some time now, with portions being released about every other week by the Hall of Fame.

"What will be released over the next several months, everything that has been part of that first phase, I believe is approximately 10 percent," she says.

And at the end of the day, it's all worth it:

"You can teach American history through the lens of baseball," she says. "You can interact with this content in new and exciting ways."

The whole project is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $15 million, but for Kristen Gwinn-Becker, it's a labor of love.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Jeff Brown Reports

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