Why Digitize Historic Content?
Historical newspapers and documents provide the first draft of our communities history and they not only need to be preserved, but made easily accessible. What are the advantages of digitizing this historic content once it is preserved on microfilm? We work directly with many library directors who ask this question and we have the answer.
Keyword searching allows library staff and patrons to find information within seconds of typing in a name or search term.
Less time spent thumbing through pages of newspapers or microfilm is more time spent assisting patrons & working on other projects or programs for the library.
For example: Patron A calls the library looking for “John Smith’s” obituary believing “John Smith” passed away between 1910 – 1920. Reference staff spends two weeks flipping through one page at a time finding every John Smith that passed between 1910 – 1920. Patron A calls back and says I’m sorry it was between 1900 -1907. Three weeks have been lost to researching an obituary. Keyword searching allows phrase searching for every newspaper page containing the phrase “John Smith”. Once that term has been searched, reference staff just has to click through each indexed year in their database from 1910 – 1920. Those years will be filtered by the search term “John Smith” (only the articles containing the term “John Smith” will appear for that year once searched). Three weeks of research via microfilm is now an hour of research on a computer.
Keyword searching & indexing of archives assures staff of a higher percentage rate return on finding information their patrons need. Computer searches can find people, phrases, places and events people can overlook after hours of researching a newspaper page by page.
Once your newspaper is digitized, each newspaper page will be keyword searchable. You can search for “John Smith’s” name on a newspaper page and it will be highlighted if the name appears in that document. Searching within newspaper pages allows staff to catch information they would otherwise overlook, while reading microfilm page by page. Keyword searching can also assist in finding information not previously discovered in the newspaper archive.
Hard copy newspaper & microfilm wear down with every year and every use of that document or microfilm reel. Researching digitally is not only a more efficient way of searching, it also helps further preserve the original documents and microfilm from deteriorating over time with use.
Once content is digitized it can be saved to any computer or hard drive. If the microfilm and hard copy newspapers wear down over time there are additional costs associated with buying more microfilm, and unfortunately if the newspapers deteriorate, once they are gone they are gone forever.