Easily Digitize Printed or Bound Volume Newspaper Archives Today

Communities across the country are ramping up their newspaper archive digitization projects as they see increased interest in the history contained within the pages.  Writers, researchers, genealogists and educators are among those crying out for convenient online access to the rich history of America’s small towns and the way its people and events were covered by the local newspaper.

SmallTownPapers was founded after its president saw firsthand the inaccessibility of small market newspaper archives.  He was stunned that so many newspaper publishers never had the resources to microfilm or digitize the newspapers leaving them with an archive of a single printed issue of each paper often placed in bound volumes stored at the newspaper office.

Having only a printed archive means that the newspaper staff has a hard time retrieving information from old issues and the front office, which routinely receives requests for information (especially with the tremendous growth in genealogy research), will have to spend time retrieving past issues or the correct bound volume for the customer.  These archives are difficult to search, are increasingly fragile, and are vulnerable to events like a building fire, flood, or in the case of an Oklahoma newspaper recently, a roof collapse.  The history in the pages is literally at risk every day.

BrewsterHerald1909SmallTownPapers began with the Quad City Herald (formerly Brewster Herald) in Washington state.  Our company founder was working there when he caught a glimpse of the newspaper’s bound volume archives dating back to the early 1900s.  It was this rural newspaper that inspired him to create an affordable yet quality way to preserve historic archives. It would have to include safe shipping since often there was only a single copy of the newspaper remaining, the pages would have to be scanned intact and appear just as the paper was printed, and it would need to provide an option for easy online hosting. Publishers Ike and Doris Vallance loved the idea of making the history-rich archives accessible for their community and became the first to sign on to the idea in 1999.  The company designed specifically to help small town publishers was born.

Since that time, hundreds of newspapers and millions of archive pages have been scanned and placed online by SmallTownPapers and the program continues to grow.  In addition to working with publishers, we’re now proud to also work with historical societies, universities, libraries, alumni organizations and others who have print archives.  In addition to newspapers, we have scanned yearbooks and organization newsletters, university newspapers, and in northern California, we’re scanning a community’s historic water maps.

Wondering what you’ll find in small town newspaper archives beyond coverage of town celebrations, marriages, obituaries, coverage of high school sports and city council meetings?  It was a small town in Iowa that is home to the Surf Ballroom – the venue where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper had performed before their doomed flight in 1959.  One of our newspapers covered the early days of the town which is now home to tech giant Microsoft while another gives you a look at what island life was like on Martha’s Vineyard in 1846.  These archive pages truly document the story of America like no other.

Contact SmallTownPapers to learn more.  Email karen@smalltownpapers.com or call our Washington state office at 360.427.6300 and find out how to get started with your archive digitization project.

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Oklahoma Newspaper Office Roof Collapse Narrowly Misses Archive

ClevelandAmericanThis week, there was a great reminder of why so many newspapers are finally moving forward and finding ways to digitize their printed archives.  In the Oklahoma town of Cleveland, there was a roof collapse at a newspaper office which narrowly missed the paper’s printed archive.  The archive consists of a single copy of each issue of the newspaper dating back to the early 1900s.  They contain the rich history of this American small town.  Digitizing the archive preserves a community’s history and places it online for everyone to access, research and share.

Contact ArchiveInABox today to learn more about how to affordably make your newspaper archive digitization project a reality.

>>Cleveland, Oklahoma roof collapse article – Feb. 6, 2015

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The Race to Digitize Newspaper Archives

volume2A quick search online will reveal a huge trend this year – more newspapers than ever before are being digitized and placed online for the world to enjoy.

Publishers want to give people easy access to information, reduce the number of inquiries their staff has to manage and digitally protect for future generations the wealth of information their archives hold.

In the past, money and time were obstacles to digitization.  Only large daily newspapers seem to have the available resources.  But today, digitization is a manageable endeavor and there are so many grants and creative fundraising options available to make it happen.

At ArchiveInABox, we’ve had numerous cases where individuals in the community have helped pay for digitization and in some cases, historical societies, alumni organizations and other groups have been able to secure grants allowing them to initiate scanning and eventually house their archive online where it can be easily accessed, searched and enjoyed by everyone.

To get a feel for the newspaper digitization efforts underway around the world, check out a few of the recent newspaper digitization stories in the news:

SmallTownPapers’ ArchiveInABox is a digitization solution for newspaper publishers and organizations who have bound volume or loose printed archives. ArchiveInABox offers an affordable, easy and safe process. The original materials are shipped in military grade containers, scanned intact (no cutting), and safely returned to the source.  ArchiveInABox also provides online hosting. Contact ArchiveInABox today to find out how you can get started.

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Local Grants Help Digitize Newspaper Archives

bothellSmallTownPapers’ ArchiveInABox is about to begin phase two of a great historical preservation project in a town north of Seattle. The Woodinville Heritage Society received Heritage Collection Care grant from King County, Washington’s cultural services agency – 4Culture. The grant will fund Phase 2 of Spread the News – a project to digitize the archive of the Bothell Sentinel and Citizen newspaper and make it online accessible and searchable.

Phase 1 of the project was recently completed thanks to a grant secured by the Bothell Historical & Museum Society. That portion of the archive is already available for free via its dedicated webpage available here.

The Woodinville Heritage Society was awarded 4Culture’s largest heritage grant in 2014 receiving more than $8000 to preserve the history contained in the newspaper archive. 4Culture, according to its website, supports projects “promoting and encouraging professional standards and practices in the collection, preservation, assessment and perpetual care of historic and culture materials, artifacts and archival records pertaining to the heritage of King County.”

4Culture 2014 grants are also helping two other digitization projects underway with ArchiveInABox. The Redmond Historical Society is digitizing the Sammamish Valley News and the JTNews is digitizing the archive of Seattle’s Jewish newspaper, The JTNews.

Check out the local heritage grants that may be available in your community.  You can learn more about 4Culture’s grant program and how to apply by visiting www.4culture.org.

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What You Need to Know Before Digitizing Your Archive.

It’s amazing what you might hear from a scanning provider who wants to earn your business — here are the top “fascinating falsehoods” regularly pitched to publishers:

  1. Bound book archives must be cut apart to scan and digitize.  FALSE
    No, your books do not have to be cut.  We scan all material intact including delicate materials like aging newspapers, whether loose or in bound volumes.
  2. Printed archives have to be microfilmed before digitizing.  FALSE
    Scanning can be done directly from printed material such as bound volumes, and will yield a superior image quality over that of microfilm. This means photos and illustrations will be clear and sharp. Scanning from microfilm should be done only if you don’t have the original newspapers.
  3. If you scan from the original printed page, there will be bleedthrough from the other side.  FALSE
    Our scans do not pick up bleedthrough – the pages are clean and easy to read.
  4. You should always scan to PDF file format.  FALSE
    PDF file format is great for searching and accessing individual editions, but limits what can be done in the online environment. Always insist that your digital copies are produced in the high resolution TIFF file format — from here you can save to any format, including PDF. ArchiveInABox uses non-proprietary, open source file formats in its hosting program which are far superior to PDF for online searching.
  5. You have to pay a hosting fee to put the digital archive online.  FALSE
    ArchiveInABox provides online hosting for those wanting it — without an additional charge.
  6. You have to license software and pay every year.  FALSE
    With ArchiveInABox, there are no software licensing fees. Our program is all inclusive for a one-time price.
  7. You have to ship your entire archive to our scan center.  FALSE
    When you select ArchiveInABox to produce your digital copies, you receive the benefit of our proven and repeatable production and logistics process, including the use of our heavy duty shipping containers.  You ship small amounts of your archive at any given time.

Know what you’re getting before you sign an agreement to scan your archives.  You want a partner who will be there with you throughout the process and will make it easy for your customers to access and search the archives online today and for years to come.

SmallTownPapers’ ArchiveInABox solution specializes in scanning full size loose and bound printed newspaper archives. We work with hundreds of newspaper publishers and historical stakeholders, such as libraries and historical societies, nationwide.

If you want to know more, give us a call today – 360.427.6300.

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An Affordable Way to Digitize Your Newspaper Archive

Increasingly, we have historical societies and alumni organizations working to digitize newspaper archives but they’re the groups often most challenged when it comes to having the funds to make digitization a reality.  Many of our ArchiveInABox customers have found success in turning to their communities to help fund their archive preservation – those who will be the direct benefactors of digitization and the searchable online access to the archive.

In addition to rallying your community with a fundraising campaign, be sure to check out grants available for historic preservation projects.  Identify and look into regional foundations and organizations which may have funds available to help and you may want to check out the following sites.

Want to learn more about ways SmallTownPapers customers are making their newspaper digitization project a reality?  Contact us today – 360.427.6300 or email PaulJ@smalltownpapers.com.

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ArchiveInABox Helps Publishers Preserve Historic Archives

There are numerous companies and programs available to transfer microfilm to digital but what about the organizations with bound volume or loose printed archives – often having only one copy of a newspaper or newsletter remaining and it may be in fragile condition?  These are the projects perfectly suited for SmallTownPapers’ ArchiveInABox solution.  It’s currently being used by newspaper publishers, alumni groups, historical societies and other organizations seeking to digitally preserve and have access to printed archive material.

ArchiveInABox specializes in scanning delicate and deteriorating pages and provides shipping in secure military-grade containers.  The pages are scanned in their entirety (the books or issues are never cut or taken apart) and the digital images are made online accessible and searchable while the originals are safely shipped back to the owner.  ArchiveInABox provides customers with online hosting for the archive which saves organizations from having to secure that separately.

ArchiveInABox also works with organizations to ensure digitizing the archive is affordable – scanning is performed at a pace set by the organization.  Some customers have completed digitization in a year while others have spread it out over time – scanning as funds were available.

“We made a conscious decision that it was time to begin digitization, due to the accessibility and condition of our bound archives. The best course of action is the scanning program [ArchiveInABox] offered by SmallTownPapers. It works. It is low cost, and the digitization is accomplished over time, so we spread out, what little expense there is, over a long period.”   Tom Mullen, Shelton-Mason County Journal

Contact SmallTownPapers and ask about our ArchiveInABox solution and how it can help you gain easy online access to historic newspaper archives.  Call us at 360.427.6300 or email Paul Jeffko at paulj@smalltownpapers.com.

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The Success of SmallTownPapers’ Awards Program Platform

BetterBNCLogoIn 2007, SmallTownPapers launched a platform for journalism contests – one of the only platforms that has been designed specifically for news media contests. BetterBNC is an entirely integrated, online contest platform which is being used by nearly 200 media organizations today for their print and broadcast journalism contests as well as public relations and other news media-related awards programs.  Those using the platform today include AP and SPJ chapters, broadcast associations, press clubs, collegiate media organizations, public relations chapters, the Mirror Awards, Inland Press Association and more.

There are a number of features that set this SmallTownPapers’ product apart from its competitors including an Admin Advisor Group (comprised of individuals who are using the platform) which reviews and recommends platform enhancements.  The platform allows contests to open entries to freelance journalists, allows payments via PayPal, and is intuitive and easy for all to use.

Visit BetterBNC’s blog to learn more about BetterBNC and its suite of powerful features or contact Carter Cheston at carter@smalltownpapers.com to set up a free demo or learn more.

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Lessons from the Firestorm

Photo:  Carlton Complex Fire Information

Photo: Carlton Complex Fire Information

As I write, thousands of firefighters are in Central Washington fighting multiple wildfires that are burning hundreds of thousands of acres of land.  One fire alone, the Carlton Complex Fire, is the largest in the state’s history burning more than a quarter of a million acres. Spanning 391 square miles, this fire has destroyed more than 300 homes, apartments and commercial buildings. Small towns dotting the gorgeous landscape are now hosting evacuation centers, news satellite trucks and Red Cross vans. Many have lost power and telephone access while the hardest hit communities have lost town structures including a school, a post office, a church and a hardware store.

I have found myself a wildfire victim as the blaze burned across family land located in the hills above the town of Pateros. I am relieved no one was on the property when the flames engulfed the house and surrounding land but I do wish I could go back and retrieve a few sentimental items which are forever lost – photos pinned to the shop walls, the ”Paid in Full” bill from the well driller, notes written to me by neighbors. All small, insignificant items that I alone will miss.

Now, after all the marketing my company has done, the trade shows attended, ads published — all preaching about how the time to act to preserve historic documents is before a loss – I am facing that reality. It’s funny how those little slips of paper represent a strong emotional anchor – easy to take for granted – until they are gone.

With the heartache of loss comes a sobering reminder that we can never guarantee or imagine what may happen tomorrow.  It may be a natural disaster or it may be something different that claims items with great meaning.  Either way, protect what you can, while you can.  Low-cost scanners give us an opportunity to protect many of those items which we hold dear such as photos, letters and other material that can be digitally preserved right on our desktop. Professional services are available to help with larger more complex projects.  The lesson from this week’s Washington fires and my own experience is simply to take action today.

Paul Jeffko is the president and founder of SmallTownPapers, Inc.  He can be reached at paulj@smalltownpapers.com.
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Our Personal Connection to Washington’s Historic Wildfires

CarltonComplexFireThe historic wildfires raging in central Washington have strong ties to the SmallTownPapers family. Not only does the company founder, Paul Jeffko, have a home and property which have been affected by the Carlton Complex wildfire but it was in this beautiful area of Washington state – an area people love for its rolling hills, canyons and orchards – that the idea for SmallTownPapers was born.

In the 1990s, Paul did some work for the Quad City Herald (Brewster, WA) which serves the Washington communities of Brewster, Bridgeport, Mansfield and Pateros. It was working in the newspaper’s Brewster office that he first caught a glimpse of the newspaper’s bound volume archives dating back to the early 1900s and realized that they needed to be made accessible to the community and also protected from the inevitable deterioration that comes with bound volumes being stored in a business attic.

Publishers Ike and Doris Vallance loved the idea of making the history-rich archives accessible for everyone and became the first to sign on to the idea in 1999. In 2000, SmallTownPapers was up and running – digitizing its first newspaper archive and making it online accessible and searchable.

This past week, the very towns served by the Quad City Herald have been under siege from the raging fires. Pateros has been in the national news for losing so many homes and structures; the Carlton Complex fire is now the largest in state history. Thankfully, the archives of the Quad City Herald are preserved and current issues of so many of the local newspapers in the area are created digitally these days so their content is protected for the future.

But we can’t help but wonder about some of the other towns affected. Are their bound volume archives sitting on a shelf in an evacuated building with the fire line nearby? Will they be safe or will the documented history of their community be lost? It’s simply a reminder to act today to preserve photos, documents and other materials that you can digitally protect for the future. We can never predict what tomorrow might hold.

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