Yearbook getting rid of printed version, going completely digital this year

The class of 2010 will be the last class to receive a printed yearbook, as the Aquinas staff will launch an all-digital yearbook for the 2010-11 school year in early October.

“We have partnered up with IRT to put together a really great website with a lot more content and a lot more photos, something that wouldn’t have been possible with the printed book,” said Cecilia Petschel, Aquinas yearbook advisor.

<p>All old St. Thomas yearbooks, such as these, will be archived online after the switch to digital. (Ashley Stewart/TommieMedia)</p>
All old St. Thomas yearbooks, such as these, will be archived online after the switch to digital. (Ashley Stewart/TommieMedia)

The discussion about going digital with the yearbook started in 2008. The decision was made this spring because of budget concerns, sustainability and accessibility, Petschel said.

“Instead of being limited by a printed number, now anyone can access the online Aquinas: current students, faculty and staff, alumni and prospective students,” Petschel said. “And instead of getting rid of it, as many colleges and universities across the country, we are embracing current technology trends and putting the Aquinas online – keeping an important St. Thomas tradition.”

The Aquinas staff is currently finalizing the yearbook’s new website. The digital yearbook is expected to have space for unlimited copy and will include photographs and video clips. Petschel said she hopes to put all St. Thomas’ old yearbooks on the website in addition to the new ones.

“A big part of St. Thomas is tradition and I think the access the site will allow people to have will be neat,” Petschel said. “It’s also going to give students more opportunities to showcase their talents and the more we give students opportunity to shine the more exciting it is.”

Petschel also said there will be nostalgia for the print version after a change like this, but once people understand and accept the way media is moving forward, things will get better.

Ann Kenne, St. Thomas’ head of special collections and university archivist, said she is concerned about the obstacles the digital yearbook will cause for her and others who want to look up archives in the future. But Kenne also said she believes “it has the potential to bring an experience back to people with its video features.”

“Yearbooks are classic”

Some students are having a hard time accepting this change, especially this year’s senior class, which won’t receive print copies of yearbooks like previous senior classes.

“It’s somewhat upsetting and I’m completely disappointed,” senior Elina Shampan said. “Yearbooks are classic. I’ve had a yearbook from first grade all the way to 12th grade and I was really looking forward to having one in college, too.”

Senior Samiah Al-Huthaili doesn’t understand why they can’t publish both printed and digital copies and said she’s disappointed because her dad graduated from St. Thomas and lives overseas now. He’s been looking forward to receiving a copy of her yearbook after she graduates.

But other students think it is a step in the right direction.

“I’ve never had a yearbook before since I’m from Morocco, but it’ll be nice to have a digital one that I can show other people and not forget somewhere,” said junior Hamza Jabri. “But as an engineer major, it shows what we’re aiming for, excelling in the direction of new technology, and I think it’s a good thing.”

Ashley Stewart can be reached at

5 Replies to “Yearbook getting rid of printed version, going completely digital this year”

  1. In my opinion, this is very sad. Fortunately, my class, the Class of 2009, still had a printed yearbook, but I don’t think any amount of technology can replace a printed book, and I think this is a loss for the Class of 2011 and beyond. With a yearbook, there was no need for internet access that might be beyond the monetary means of an alumnus/alumna, particularly if he/she came to UST from a family of modest means. Additionally, one can take a yearbook anywhere, and just page through it, all the while reflecting and fondly remembering four wonderful years at St. Thomas. You can’t do that with the internet, it doesn’t even come close.
    I understand yearbooks are not an essential part of the UST college experience, and an internet web page might be a nice way to remember UST for some people, but you can’t leaf through them or take them anywhere like you can with a yearbook. Plus, it’s very hard to ponder and reflect on one’s time at UST when reading a web page, whereas, at least for me, a book aids that process.

  2. All digital made some sense for news, because news — like the internet — is fundamentally transient. It is important for a little while and then fades under the waves of internet instability. The whole purpose of a yearbook is permanence, and that is fundamentally impossible online, because websites represent constant, ongoing cost, and constant, ongoing maintenance to remain active and compatible with modern technologies (i.e. new browsers) and W3C standards.

    The sad reality is that UST has just discontinued the Aquinas yearbook, and it is going to get away with it because it’s made the announcement on the website of a discontinued newspaper that no one reads anymore.

    It is amazing how much money we have for unnecessary new buildings when we have so little money for the core expressions of a liberal arts alma mater.

  3. If this is made into an e-book with a supporting web-site it could turn out to be an improvement over a print version because 1) the ability to put more dynamic content into the book and 2) the ability to link to a web-site that can be updated as the class ages.

  4. In addition to the hosted site, IRT should offer a digital offline version. Even if it won’t have the updates that IRT might decide to implement later students won’t be dependent on St. Thomas’ servers to look at their yearbook. I also question the sustainability concerns that led to this decision. Printing off yearbooks once compared to maintaining a website that could service thousands for the indefinite future does not seem intuitively more sustainable.

    Lastly, a lot of information is missing in regards to access to the yearbook. Is it a log in website? Publicly available? How much does it cost? How long will it be active? Questions easily answered with a traditional yearbook should have been answered when this announcement was made.

  5. Dumb idea! Yearbooks are keepsakes, to be signed and/or shown to visitors, children, grandchildren, etc. They are a physical memento of an era in our lives. Having to bring it up on-line takes away the sentimental value, and it would only become another document easily lost in the electronic ether. I’ll bet the voting on this one goes in favor of printed version!

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