Yearbook to keep paper edition, add digital copies

Aquinas, St. Thomas' yearbook that started in , will start distributing electronic copies this fall. (John Kruger/TommieMedia)
St. Thomas first published a yearbook in 1918. Aquinas, the school's current publication, will release electronic copies this fall. (John Kruger/TommieMedia)

Some colleges around the country have decided to scrap their traditional yearbooks, blaming the age of Facebook and budget cuts.

The University of Virginia is the most recent school to join a growing group of colleges that no longer publish yearbooks as more students have decided to share memories through social networking.

But Aquinas, the St. Thomas yearbook, will remain in hard copy for now, although plans are in the works to start releasing digital copies this fall.

Ann Kenne, St. Thomas’ head of special collections and university archivist, said the first yearbook published for St. Thomas was a combined yearbook with the St. Thomas military academy. The yearbook was called the Kaydet and was released in 1918.

Although Facebook provides instant documentation of memories, some students say they like to hold something in their hands. Much like concerns that arose with phasing out The Aquin student newspaper, some students aren’t ready to completely lose the hardcover yearbook and solely make memories on the Internet.

“I’m a tradition guy,” senior John Busch said. “I like tradition, so I’m so used to having a paper copy of a yearbook. I like to have something physical that I can look at, something tangible.”

Aquinas adviser Cecilia Petschel said the hard copy of the yearbook should stay.

“I think it’s really important to always have a way to document the year,” she said. “[Students] are making memories on Facebook between their own friends, but kind of something all across St. Thomas is really valuable, and it’s good to have something to look at. I mean Facebook is great, but it’s not the same as the yearbook.”

But with the age of Internet and social networking comes the transformation from page to screen. The Aquinas yearbook will follow that trend, although the hardcover version will still be available.

“I don’t necessarily think that we need [yearbooks], but I don’t think that Facebook is a replacement for them,” senior Lauren Miller said. “I think [a yearbook would] be something nice to look back on. I think it’s definitely a nice thing to have for the future.”

The total budget for Aquinas is $68,281, a number that may decrease with the release of an online version of the yearbook. That version will be available in the fall 2010, and Petschel said that after gauging response to the digital version in the next two years, the number of hard copy versions may decrease for sustainability and budget reasons.

“It’s one of those neat traditions that, like The Aquin, [people] are sad when it’s gone,” Petschel said. “So what we can do to keep it current is really important.”

Petschel also said the reasons for moving to a digital copy of the yearbook include expansion of space, which means unlimited copy and photographs as well as the addition of videos. The yearbook is completely student created, so expansion would mean highlighting the talents of photographers, designers and more.

“I think with the technology we have, you almost expect it that it should be online,” Busch said. “With how prominent the Internet is, it’s expected that things should go from paper copy to Internet. With the possibility of having audio and video, it really would set it apart from the paper copy.”

Stephani Bloomquist can be reached at

One Reply to “Yearbook to keep paper edition, add digital copies”

  1. I think that it is a mistake moving the yearbook entirely online based on the idea that online social networking is in fashion right now. What will happen going online to view photos becomes outdated? Then how will we look at the yearbook? An actual yearbook never goes out of style. I think it would be a brash decision to make the yearbook only available online.

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