Friday, February 25, 2011

Digitizing Kentucky Newspapers

I was recently asked by a library patron about the progress of digitizing Kentucky Newspapers. This lady was in the process of ordering several newspaper titles on microfilm via Interlibrary Loan, but she was on the phone with me because finding the exact title needed can be a little challenging. Kentucky is only one example, but as a state that many pioneers travelled through, demand for our early newspapers can be quite high. For those of you interested in borrowing Kentucky newspapers, the University of Kentucky loans out their newspaper microfilm via Interlibrary Loan on a daily basis. Depending on your library's location, the cost per title requested can range from free to $20. (International rates can run to $35)

 So, back to the lady's question. As we were locating the titles she needed (ILL requests have to have a title, not just a county plus "newspaper" in the title field), she produced a heavy sigh and asked if we would ever put these microfilmed newspapers online instead of having to go through all this each time - and she was in a location that allowed free loans - which speaks to the limitations of microfilm.

 I told her we were certainly working on it, and tried to explain that transferring microfilm to digital images was very possible, being accomplished as we spoke, but would take many years, and many sources of funding to accomplish - and that's just on behalf of one state. We all are well aware of the LDS Library's efforts at digitizing their collection in Utah, but as a small state with limited resources, I thought it would be helpful to showcase a few online sources already up for those of you interested in Kentucky Newspaper research. Many of these new resources have been possible through nationally funded grants - but the process put in place, and the wonderful images produced will hopefully serve to secure more funding to keep the projects going.
Links to Kentucky Newspapers online:

  • Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers - This is where the NDNP digitized Kentucky newspapers are deposited for access. This one is not just for Kentucky, but houses the images produced by other state recipients of the project grant. The images can be explored, cut, saved as images or pdfs - primed and ready for hardcore research!

  • Kentuckiana Digital Library - Statewide effort of fully searchable digitized issues not housed in the Chronicling America database. Of course, the Kentuckiana Digital Library is also known for its amazing photographic collection that grows each year.

For Microfilm:
Microfilm Ordering Database from the University of Kentucky - Just in case you would like a fairly complete list of the available Kentucky Newspapers on Microfilm - browsable by county and listed chronologically. This list is for PURCHASING reels of microfilm - that's right, you could own your own copy if you get the urge, but despite its original purpose, it is a wonderful resource for just browsing available newspaper titles - we use it a lot when helping patrons decide which title to order via ILL.

Since I'm not one of the digital experts, here is a video about newspaper digitization efforts at the University of Kentucky.




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