Digitising the School Magazines

Yesterday, the 2007 school magazine was released in the school assembly. While trying to get the PDFs for uploading here, I was reminded of a mail I received in January this year.

Karthik (1999) wrote to me and suggested that we digitise the school magazines — make past issues available on a CD or for download. This idea has been around for a few years. Considering that technology is available next door, costs have fallen, and there are a large number of IT-savvy Loyolites, I am surprised that this idea remains an idea.

What are the obstacles?

Ambitious. Yes, but that does not deter fools like me from rushing in.

Unwise? Probably. And that is my worry.

I remember that in 2004, the OBA offered to send the latest issue of the school magazine to old boys, at a price of Rs 100. In the end, less than 20 out of the 1000+ members sent orders. To those of us who had argued for re-starting this service, it was an eye-opener in estimating demand.

Couriering school magazines is a simple service and involves negligible cost; it is ok if there are only two orders for the magazine. On the other hand, digitising school magazines is less simple and fairly expensive. It involves at least two months of intensive networking to get the school magazines from the 1960s to 2007, and then a month to get them digitised and packaged. In addition to time and energy, there is the cost of digitising. A back-of-the-envelope calculation indicates the required investment to be Rs 50,000.

Two models

I can think of two ways to move forward.

Model 1: Voluntary group donation. In this model, a few Loyolites will put in time and energy, while a few others will donate money. Since everybody is volunteering, nobody expects monetary returns. The advantage of this model is that no single individual is worried about the demand — it does not matter if in the end, only five people buy the CD or pay for the download.

Model 2: Enterprise. In this model, a few Loyolites will put in time, energy and money. They bear the financial risk, sell the product, and may make a profit (or loss).

In the past, old boys have tried out the first model. It worked well for the lobaglobal website in 2003-04 (when the 1988 and 1993 batches put in money, and the OBA put in time and energy), and the Joseph Uncle campaign in 2007 (when alumni across batches put in money, and two old boys of 2001 batch put in time and energy).

For digitising the school magazines, should we try out the second model? Are there any entrepreneurial batches out there?

Or if we are sticking to the first model, are there two or three batches who will put in the money?

Depending on your response, we will take this up now or later.


  • I would go with Model 1. There is no better way to preserve our school’s history and to know our past and present than read the articles students, teachers and alumni have written in our school magazine. A classmate of mine has every issue of The Loyolite from 1985 to 1998. Let me know if you would need to borrow those for this initiative.

    I regret not saving the mags i had…but i still remember every good article that came in The Loyolite during those years, it would be just awesome to read the writeups before and after the time i passed out of school.

  • Jiby, yes, if your classmate can lend the magazines, that would be a significant help. Will contact you when the initiative gathers steam. I am waiting for the money. As a first step, if one or two batches can donate Rs 30,000 for digitising magazines from 1980-2007, that would be nice.

  • Ashok,
    I work in a place where we are digitizing books all the time. I doubt I can get them to try and digitize these books for us, but I will certainly try.

    In any case, there are companies who will do digitisation commerically, or so I’ve heard. This is also something that can be undertaken with a scanner and some software, pirated copies of which are available everywhere. Once we get hold of the forty-odd magazines, with the right hardware and software, digitization can be completed cottage-indutry-style in two or three days with two people working.

    Now. Volunteers?

  • Syam, yes, this is best done professionally. We’ll have to pay such companies.

    Aju, I know companies in Delhi that will do this commercially. I think we should do this professionally, rather than a few Loyolites volunteering to do it cottage-industry style. After scanning, we need the magazine text to be searchable. So, that’ll take a few days and more money. To me, it appears that money is the barrier.

  • Keep going guys. Money comes in when the will is strong. My wishes to all those who would be involved physically and morally.

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