Deacon Profile: Lawton Manning

Senior Lawton Manning has a special relationship with the Old Gold & Black. Working in the digital collections department in Z. Smith Reynolds Library, he has spent the past year digitizing old issues of the Old Gold & Black

When he’s not working in ZSR, Manning is a double computer science and physics major and president of the American Sign Language Club. 

Tell me how you got started working in the library. 

I got started my freshman year with the work-study program. I’ve always done the digitization. 

What department is that in?

It’s in the library in their digital collections department. They do everything with the special collections part with very fragile documents, but also just digital stuff — so, just doing what I’m doing: uploading stuff. 

Has your whole time been spent digitizing the Old Gold & Black? Or, what else have you done?

So, we just started working on the Old Gold & Black last semester. We already had a little bit of it digitized. We have these really big books that have all the issues for the whole year. 

So, you scan directly from these big books. Does that make it difficult?

Well, we have these really large flatbed scanners that can hold something the size of the book. 

It’s mostly flat, but you can still tell it’s from a book. Some of the really old issues, like ten years ago and before, don’t have the books — they’re just in big folders. Those are actually easier, because you can just press the issue down with glass and scan it. 

The Old Gold & Black has books for each year going way back. 

I’ve been catching up. Right now, I’m on last year’s editions.  

So, you’ll be all caught up? 

Yeah. We don’t have this year’s edition, obviously, because that’s still in the works. 

What year did you start with?  

I’m not even sure myself. I think we’ve gone through at least like 10 to 15 years in total. I would say mid-2000s up until the present. There are some years that we already have, so we skipped them. 

That seems like a lot of work. How does the process work? Does it take very long?

If I’m listening to music or an audiobook or something, I can do three weeks of the newspaper in maybe two hours. Like it only takes me maybe thirty minutes to do one with all of the alignment stuff. But sometimes there are problems. The biggest part that I try to get really right is the alignment because you’re scanning these things, and you want people to be able to read them. There’s the scanning, which doesn’t take long. It’s a short scan, but sometimes it’s cut off and fixing that kind of thing takes a while. 

Do you think it’s important to have these archives online?

I think it’s important because a lot of [campus happenings] are spread through word of mouth, especially stuff that happened before or stuff that is not in the OGB. It would be useful for when someone is interested in how this happened and how did Wake Forest react. Even when I was scanning, there are events that happened in history or in our nation where it would be interesting to see how that stuff went down on campus. Recently, I was doing the election — the 2016 election — and it was really big, so it was in almost every edition. It was interesting to see how students were reacting to it. Even though I lived through it, and I know, people coming in and out now don’t. 

What has it been like to see the Old Gold & Black through the years and Wake Forest through the Old Gold & Black?

That’s also why it takes so long because sometimes I read it. Especially recently, it’s the stuff that I know about. I’m a senior now, so everything before my time, I’ve heard about. People say stuff, like this thing happened three years ago, and then you’re reading about it in hindsight. It’s also just interesting to see how a lot of the stuff stays the same. Like, when I read the Old Gold & Black, I love the Police Beat section. When I’m scanning that section, I’ll stop and read it real quick — just like vandalism things, people were caught with alcohol, that kind of thing. 

Or, like the building of Magnolia, Farrell and Dogwood. I first heard that through Dean Shore, the barber. That all started at the same time, and nobody knew about it. One day everybody in Polo woke up and tried to go out through the parking lot, but they couldn’t because there was a huge construction fence, and people were like twenty minutes late to class that day. That was a big thing on that week’s OGB, because people were complaining about it. I read about it and all these people were getting upset and all that. It’s crazy to see those changes.

Anything similar? 

Yeah, it’s interesting to see how similar [things can be]. The year might be 2012, but it’s 7 years later, and someone is writing about the same thing, or there’s the same problem or same kind of opinion that is propagated. It’s kind of interesting. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but it’s kind of cool.