By JESSICA ARSENAULT RIVENBURG
ILION – After years of scanning, grant-writing and waiting, every known Ilion High School yearbook is now available online, thanks to the Ilion Library and Library Historian Mike Disotelle.
The yearbooks begin with 1909 and 1911, then jump to 1922, and jump again to 1926. From there, every year is represented up to 2013, when Ilion High School ceased to exist and became Central Valley – a merge of Mohawk and Ilion.
Disotelle had the idea and began the project in July 2018. Noting that yearbooks are a very popular item in the library’s history room, he wanted to make them more easily accessible to all. After completing the Urban Renewal Project, which involved scanning in photos of downtown Ilion from the 1890s through the 1970s, he decided to move on to scanning yearbooks.
“Of course, scanning books is a lot different than scanning individual, flat photos,” Disotelle pointed out.
It proved a painstaking process of scanning and rotating and naming files and cropping, he said. It took about two hours to complete 50 pages.
Then Disotelle heard about a grant opportunity through the Central New York Library Resource Council. He applied for and received the grant, which allowed for the purchase of a new, state-of-the-art book scanner. The grant also allowed for purchasing a new computer system and has room to pay for a future project.
After limping along slowly to get the yearbooks scanned in, Disotelle could suddenly scan 200 pages in one hour.
“The new scanner is amazing,” he said. “It automatically rotates and crops the pages, the images come out much better and the process of naming files is much quicker and easier.”
Disotelle was able to scan in the remaining 35 yearbooks in just two months.
Lastly, thousands of pages of images were loaded onto two flash drives and mailed to the CLRC in Syracuse, who uploaded them to the website.
As for the missing yearbooks of 1910 and the 19-teens, it might be that they simply don’t exist. The yearbooks are not to be found in the library’s history room, Disotelle said. He asked school district officials if they had any record of the missing yearbooks. They do not.
“To be honest, I didn’t search beyond that,” Disotelle said. “If we don’t have them, and the schools don’t have them, there’s a very good possibility that those classes didn’t make yearbooks.”
In all, 92 yearbooks are now available online.
“It’s been a very long and, at times, challenging process,” Disotelle said. “Finally, after nearly three years, I got the email last week that it’s all done and up online.”
The online yearbooks can be found at https://nyheritage.org/collections/ilion-yearbook-collection.
Disotelle noted that to fully view the pages at their best quality, users should click the “expand” icon in the top right corner of the page.