College days—they go by fast. And for most, treasured memories from this precious time fade into the past forever. Photos are lost. Names are forgotten. Much disappears without a trace.
Unless you are a UNLV alum.
The UNLV Libraries recently digitized the complete run of the Rebel Yell (1956-2010). “The Rebel Yell digitization project originated out of the desire to document the activities of students, something the Libraries are always eager to do,” said Cory Lampert, head of UNLV Libraries’ Digital Collections Division. “We are here, we are listening, and we are proud to serve our constituents.”
Interestingly, UNLV students first expressed the desire to increase access to UNLV’s collective memory. In 2011, then-president of the undergraduate student government, Consolidated Students of University of Nevada, Las Vegas (CSUN), Sara Saenz, approached the Libraries about the project. “I felt this was something that should have happened already, in this day and age,” Saenz said.
After obtaining information from Digital Collections about the project’s cost, Saenz successfully argued for funding through CSUN. “This gave us the important signal that students were truly and passionately behind this,” Lampert said.
CSUN provided important funding for the project, but sadly, it was only enough to cover part of the project’s cost. Luckily, then-president of UNLV’s Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA), Michael Gordon, became a strong supporter of the project as well. With additional financial assistance from the GPSA, the Rebel Yell digitization project became a reality.
Although two of UNLV’s student organizations provided funds, still more was needed to ensure that all 25,000-plus pages of the Rebel Yell would ultimately appear online. UNLV Libraries sought a grant through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and was awarded one to further fuel the project, thanks to the strong support and dedication already demonstrated by UNLV students. With one last bit of in-kind financial assistance in the form of staff time and expertise approved by UNLV Libraries Dean Patricia Iannuzzi, the project was finally off the ground.
Today, the full run of the Rebel Yell is now available to anyone anywhere via the Rebel Yell Digital Collection website (http://digital.library.unlv.edu/rebelyell). Issues are fully searchable thanks to optical character recognition (OCR), and individual articles can be “clipped” to full-version pull-outs with one click thanks to the archive’s built-in article segmentation feature.
The stories of UNLV students and the university have been brought back to life through this important project. “In a city that hasn’t traditionally been great at preserving its history, UNLV has now ensured that student traditions and activities will exist for posterity,” Gordon said. “Sometimes it’s up to the current generation to preserve the past, but the hope is that this will become a new engagement tool for all who care about the university.”
It’s a gift that the Libraries in particular has been proud to make possible on behalf of all UNLV students—past, present and future.