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Behind the scenes with digital newspaper program

by Brian Zylstra | November 20th, 2012

The Washington State Library uses a variety of online or digital programs to make its vast collections of diaries, maps, oral histories and other publications easily accessible to residents in our state or elsewhere.

One such program is the National Digital Newspaper Program, which is the largest digital newspaper project in U.S. history, sponsored by the Library of Congress and National Endowment of the Humanities. The goal is to digitize pre-1923 issues of newspapers from around the U.S. Two-thirds of the country has already contributed more than 5 million pages to the  Chronicling America website.

Our State Library has participated since 2008 and will continue to work on the program through 2014. So far, Washington has contributed 23 newspaper titles from its large microfilm collection, and continues to add more. These issues are full-text searchable and downloadable for free online at the Library of Congress by looking here.

Early this fall, Shawn Schollmeyer, who heads up our State Library’s newspaper digitizing program, went back to Washington, D.C., to attend meetings at the NEH offices and Library of Congress and to interact with program contacts.  Shawn (pictured between Library of Congress staffers Chris Ehrman on the left and Robin Butterhof) wrote most of this recent State Library blog post that offers a behind-the-scenes look at what makes the newspaper digitization program a success.

In addition to this project, our State Library created an online collection of newspapers beginning in 1852, which covers Washington’s territorial and early statehood periods. These digitized pages from our microfilm collection have been indexed and are keyword searchable thanks to the efforts of volunteers.

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