Meet Kitty Lamberger, Digitization Road Warrior
Crowley’s Onsite Scanning Services Enhance Client Comfort While Providing Valuable Life Experience
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that this blog typically features individuals who are of historic importance and/or tied to a specific archival collection. In today’s post, we take a short departure (departure being the key word!) to introduce Kitty Lamberger, a vital member of The Crowley Company’s Digitization Services’ onsite scanning team. Kitty has traveled the U.S. from coast to coast, leaving friends and family for months at a time to ensure that client collections which are exceptionally sensitive or in high daily demand can be digitized with absolute security and minimal disruption.
Notes Patrick Hill, Crowley’s director of digitization services, “Onsite scanning allows us to cater to customer needs and material security. The collection can stay in its natural environment and the customer can continue to leverage collection data while digitization is underway. Our ability to mobilize scanners and staff in any volume – as well as to meet or exceed deadlines – is a unique Crowley advantage.” He continues, “We have several long-term employees with a wide variety of capture, quality control and project management experience that are willing to travel for extended periods of time. Kitty’s experiences over the past two years show just how valuable this offering is for both clients and our team.”
From the MD to the ATL
Kitty first started with The Crowley Company as an overhead scanner operator in December of 2006, digitizing books and delicate paper archives. Over the next seven years, she gained further experience in capturing microfilm, microfiche, aperture cards, slides, negatives, documents and other forms of still media, learning best capture methods, workflow productivity management and how to achieve superior image quality. After leaving the company for a short time, Kitty returned – in her words – “home” in 2018 and was quickly promoted from scan operator to night shift manager. “Crowley equals family for me in so many ways,” says Kitty. “It’s where I feel most stable and accomplished. I’m very appreciative of having been welcomed back and have found the opportunity to travel life changing.”
Having never traveled far from home, Kitty was “nervous-excited” when offered the chance to head to the Atlanta suburbs to spearhead a large-volume microfilm scanning project for Primerica, a leading provider of financial services to middle-income households in the United States and Canada. “I hadn’t done much solo traveling at the time but was hoping to move to day shift and thought that this experience might be helpful. I wanted to do a good job and knew I would work hard but little did I know how much this opportunity would change me!”
Leaving Maryland for Georgia in August 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kitty drove herself to her new home away from home – a Best Western Plus® – and got started. The original plan was to have several temporary staff working on the project but, due to the pandemic, manpower was in short supply. Kitty tackled the onset of the project herself and eventually hired a night shift “superstar” having “a great work ethic.”
Together they each ran six Mekel Technology MACH-series microfilm scanners by themselves per shift, with Kitty working six days a week. As she muses, the pandemic restrictions left little else to do. While on the job, Kitty’s tasks included scanning, daily production reporting, file preparation, manifest checks, client communication and, on rare occasions, scanner maintenance and technical support. Between the two operators, the small team was able to finish the project and have Kitty home in time for Christmas.
“In Atlanta, I learned to push myself out of my comfort zone in both my work and my personal life. I gathered new skills for high-volume microfilm digitization and I opened myself up to making new friends at the hotel, at Primerica and at the local shops and restaurants. I learned that Southern hospitality is a wonderful thing and even had the opportunity to enjoy a Southern-style Thanksgiving dinner from a kind co-worker.”
It’s Not a Steak and Cheese
One week after Christmas, Kitty was on the road again, heading to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the United States (U.S.) Mint. Her first lesson? Sandwich ordering. “I quickly found out that in Philly, it’s a ‘cheese steak,’ not a steak and cheese…and it’s not a Philly cheese steak without Cheeze Whiz.”
Fortunately, the digitization project details were much more familiar. Kitty scanned blueprints, binders of loose material, photos and technical documents using an InoTec high-volume document scanner and an oversize map scanner. Once the materials were prepped and scanned, Kitty provided onsite quality control (QC) measures on the electronic files and presented the final images on delivery drives to the U.S. Mint project manager. Following delivery, Kitty created manifests and crated the materials for shipping to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for permanent storage.
Living in a downtown condominium rental for six months, Kitty had the opportunity to experience the city at its center. “It’s a unique place full of history. I walked by the Liberty Bell every day, but there was a somber grittiness to the city that led me to have mixed emotions. I experienced my first civil protest just outside the apartment [decrying the airstrikes over Gaza]. It was all tense and exciting.” She also noted that, “Clean socks were a must. Security at the Mint was tight and included taking off my shoes for inspection each morning.” She made another new set of friends, including the owner of the restaurant in her building who did his best to “make me feel at home.”
A Star is Born
After a rare six months back at Crowley’s Frederick facility, Kitty’s next assignment was Burbank, California and an apartment – and Christmas – in Hollywood from December 2021 to July 2022.
“Burbank impressed me as the cleanest city I had ever seen. With no public smoking allowed – the fine would have taken half my paycheck – I quickly became more healthy.”
Every day Kitty traveled to Burbank City Hall, built in 1911. Using a Zeutschel OS 12000 which was delivered and assembled onsite by a trained Crowley technician, Kitty scanned, QC’d and delivered images from the City’s bound book collections. These collections included city ordinances, meeting minutes, resolutions and other small agencies. The scope of the scanning contract was amended while Kitty was onsite to nearly double the material slated for digitization. Working free nights and weekends, Kitty was able to produce and complete the fully revised scope of work four months earlier than the amended deadline. “I’m super proud of that accomplishment,” says Kitty.
As the pandemic rules loosened, Kitty had opportunity to visit tourist sites, which she hadn’t been able to do in Atlanta and Philadelphia. “I got to see where the stars lived, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Griffith Observatory and many other places. What made me feel most comfortable though, was the kindness of the City Hall staff who recognized that I was far from home, especially at Christmas. Random breakfast treats and small gifts helped me to feel welcomed and a part of the team.”
“I’m not sure where I’m headed next, but I’m looking forward to going to wherever it is,” smiles Kitty. “Onsite scanning services have given me the opportunity to remain with a company that I love, doing work that I love while getting to experience new cities and new ways of doing things. My horizons have been broadened and traveling solo has given me new confidence in my abilities to navigate unfamiliar territories both geographic and intangible.”
So, back to where we started. Kitty Lamberger may not be a person of historic importance (yet!), but to Crowley she’s an important part of our history while simultaneously helping to build a path for future growth and increased client comfort with the offering of onsite scanning services. With her commitment to client satisfaction and her willingness to put her Maryland life on hold, we officially deem Kitty “blog-worthy.”
If you’d like to learn more about having your collections digitized onsite, please contact your Crowley representative, call (240) 215-0224 or complete this form with information about your digitization needs.
Cheri Baker, Crowley’s former Director of Communications, has retired but retains her love for writing and all things Crowley. With a career that spans newspaper, agency and corporate communications, her goal remains to dig behind the scenes and tell the story - whatever it may be. Find Cheri Baker on LinkedIn+