April 11, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 15

Library to archive all Petersburg newspapers

The Petersburg Public Library has currently archived Petersburg newspapers from the years 1913 to 1931 in order to make information easier to access.

In order to see these archived newspapers just visit the Petersburg Public Library web page; a link has been established on the home page.

“All of the information is at your fingertips,” Librarian Tara Alcock said. “The beauty of this is we have not had to do this ourselves.”

Alcock explained that the library's microfilm was sent to Advantage, a company down south that converted the information for them.

“Advantage just sent us the link and we added it to our website,” Alcock said.

Alcock also said they are hoping to have all of the microfilm archived by mid-September.

Petersburg newspapers will be available from years 1913 to 2011.

“We get several researchers looking for specific things and it is incredibly labor intensive for staff to go through and read newspapers and now all we have to do is send the customer the link or guide them to the link by our home page,” Alcock stated. “A keyword search on a pdf document would have been impossible five or six years ago, but technology has made this possible and affordable.”

The cost of this conversion is $100 per roll of microfilm. Alcock also stated that the library's microfilm machine was in need of replacement and that would have cost $8,000.

“This process is much more cost effective,” Alcock stated. “In the long run, this is much cheaper than replacing failing equipment.”

Alcock and other library staff considered this process about eight or nine years ago but it was much more expensive and it would have required someone reading each paper and indexing the pages.

“This was much less complicated and is now a simple process of taking a picture of a really old page and converting it,” Alcock stated.

Hard copies of the old newspapers will still be kept for now but some are in fragile condition.

“We have a small archive room in the new library and that will be the perfect place for these documents,” Alcock stated. “Newspapers are not made to last forever and the old ones are very fragile.”

Alcock said they are happy with the new system and hope everyone will take a look at the papers that have been archived.

“It's amazing to see the parallels in the conversations that took place in 1929 to the conversations that are taking place now,” Alcock said. “History is now easier to come by.”

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