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Dunedin Public Libraries has begun the huge task of digitising more than 140 years of index card records.
The 199,000 index cards from 1851-1993 containing information from newspapers and about community groups are being uploaded online as part of a digital archive entitled ‘‘Scattered seeds - He Purapura Marara''.
Collections and access manager Linda Geddes was under no illusions about the scale of the project: ‘‘It might take 10 years''.
Library event co-ordinator Kay Mercer said the library was looking for transcribers willing to help with the project.
It was a ‘‘gruelling search'', she said.
Ms Geddes said there might be some community interest in contributing to the project.
"I can imagine a few people wouldn't mind doing something like this, chipping away at it.''
The project was made possible by the donation of $55,000 from the Dunedin Lebanese Community (Cedars of Lebanon), Ms Geddes said.
The donation was important and ‘‘a significant investment in the cultural history of Dunedin''.
Lebanese settlers in Dunedin had their histories archived on the website. Digital outreach co-ordinator Emma Milburn said the records showed the interconnections of many Lebanese families.
‘‘It's like a knitted jersey.''
Material from Dunedin land search and rescue and Dunedin marine search and rescue organisations were also being digitised and Ms Geddes hoped other groups would do so, too.
‘‘We're hoping community groups might approach us to say they might like to put their information and histories on here.''
Ms Mercer said it was hoped the digitisation centre would act as a ‘‘kete'' or ‘‘knowledge basket'' for the community.
The digital archive can be accessed at dunedin.recollect.co.nz.