We’re Going Digital

grill of cool lowrider car


Behind a locked door, in a climate-controlled suite of rooms at the rear of the Copley Library’s Mother Rosalie Hill Reading Room, USD treasures are carefully catalogued and held for safekeeping. The items in the physical archives are irreplaceable: From vintage photographs to personal correspondence to blueprints, our history is available to members of the public — by appointment only.

But now, many of these items are available for anyone with an internet connection. Digital USD (digital.sandiego.edu) provides open access to items that showcase the contributions of faculty, staff and students.

“Our ultimate goal is to preserve the scholarship, creative work and intellectual output of the community,” explains Amanda Makula, digital initiatives librarian. “We bring these materials to the world and showcase them.”

One project that she’s excited about are materials from the San Diego Lowrider Archival Project, which were shared with USD for the purpose of making them digitally available. The effort was made possible in part by a Humanities Center Collaborative Research Grant, which supported goals of the Leading Change campaign, such as collaborative, interdisciplinary projects.

“It’s a partnership with the local San Diego community,” she explains. “This collection is exactly the kind of thing that we don’t want to lose.” Dating back to the ‘50s, the materials document the local lowrider scene, and include car club documents, memorabilia, official records, art and more.

The idea for digitally archiving the collection came from conversations with USD Ethnic Studies Professor Alberto López Pulido. He worked with local longtime activist and lowrider Rigo Reyes on a book, San Diego Lowriders: A History of Cars and Cruising and their award-winning documentary, Everything Comes from the Streets. Both projects highlight the vibrancy of lowrider culture that builds community and celebrates self-expression.

“To share these items digitally shines light on things that might otherwise be buried at the bottom of a file drawer,” says Makula.

Next up: continuing to host digitized student work such as honors theses. “Those are some of the most downloaded of all our materials,” she comments. “Our students are doing excellent, timely work, and prospective students are really interested in seeing the caliber of what comes out of USD.” — Julene Snyder

Watch a trailer for Everything Comes From the Streets:



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