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Monday, September 30, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "Carroll County project brings newspaper history into digital age"

Emily Campion's long Sept. 27th Lafayette Journal Courier story reports:

In a blend of old and new technology, a Carroll County group is digitizing newspapers dating from the early 1800s so current and future generations can search articles by keyword in the comfort of their own homes.

The newspaper digitalization project is a boon to anyone curious about the county’s history. The project began last year when Bonnie Maxwell, Carroll County historian and author, met with Kelly Currie, director of Delphi Public Library, and Melissa Bishop, director of Flora-Monroe Township Public Library, and outlined a plan to convert almost 300 reels of microfilm into an online database.

That was spring 2012. By July 2012 they had sent out 12 microfilm reels of the Camden newspapers, spanning 1880 to 1917, to Heritage Archives in Iowa. There, the newspaper pages are electronically scanned and stored in digital format on a computer. * * *

The Camden papers were just the beginning. The group has plans to digitize the Delphi Journal, Carroll County Citizen, Carroll County Citizen-Times, the Delphi Citizen, the Delphi Times, the Hoosier Democrat, the Delphi Journal-Citizen and the Carroll County Comet. All but the Comet have ceased publication.

The process isn’t cheap. The group has obtained funding from North Central Health Services through the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, Carroll County Community Foundation, the REMC Operation Roundup grants program, Duke Energy Foundation, NIPSCO’s Community Investment Program and private donations.

They have spent $18,955.75 and have less than $700 remaining from grants; $2,500 has been pledged. * * *

Historians and genealogists crave such finds. But poring over reels of microfilm in a dimly lit room can be tedious.

“If you have volumes on microfilm, you have to go through them sequentially ... scroll through many years to find things,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell loves the idea of browsing articles at home.

“It’s much more ergonomically pleasant,” she said. “The real treasure of a digital file is that it’s searchable. It’s not perfect, because if a newspaper wasn’t in good shape when microfilmed, the optical characteristics are not perfect. But if you’re lucky, there’s enough there you can retrieve something.”

Currie and Bishop think the project will be complete in mid-2014, given they obtain $9,350.75 to finish. By the end they will have more than 193,600 pages available to view and search online for free.

“It’s such unique information,” Currie said. “There are things in the newspaper that aren’t anywhere else.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 30, 2013 08:49 AM
Posted to Indiana Government