New help for publishers wanting to preserve archives.

As more and more newspapers begin to offer online news, there is growing conversation about how that material — online articles and news updates — are archived. How does a publisher ensure all of their stories are archived and how best should they make their complete archive content accessible to the public?

SmallTownPapers, Inc. has been creating solutions for publishers for nearly two decades and now has a way publishers can easily manage their new and growing archive questions.  Check out this month’s WNPA newsletter and a front page article on how SmallTownPapers is helping publishers address their latest archive needs.

>>The article can be read here.

For more information, contact us at or call us at (360) 427-6300.

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Getting started digitizing your archive.

For many publishers or historical societies wanting to digitize their newspaper archive, the thought of getting started is daunting.  Where do you begin?  Which archive newspapers, bound volumes or microfilm reels should you scan first?

Your first thought may be to scan the oldest and most fragile archive material first but many of our customers have proceeded a different way.  If the community is celebrating an anniversary of some sort, it makes sense to scan the papers connected to that event.  If you have a business or organization sponsoring the scanning effort, consider letting them decide which newspapers they want to see online first.  For many, scanning papers in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s first is most practical because those are the pages nostalgic baby boomers want to look through the most.  You know your audience best so think about them when deciding where to begin.

With our program, you decide which pages are scanned first and at what pace. There’s no contract so you are able to schedule a single shipment to get started – that way, you’re able to build community interest and support by actually showing them the online archive and letting them search and explore it.

Contact us to get started today. Email if you have any questions or would like to schedule a shipment.

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Towns with lost archives.

Amid the calls from newspaper publishers and historical societies eager to digitize their archives to prevent them from ever being lost are the stories we hear from communities trying to piece together archives that were never preserved.  We read an article recently about one such community.  The Missoula Independent’s Derek Brouwer wrote about the demise of the Bigfork Eagle newspaper.

“It’s not easy to find a copy of the Eagle’s last edition. The local museum didn’t save any, nor the local library branch, which doesn’t have space for archives (though an older patron suggests looking online). Even library headquarters in Kalispell seems to have misplaced it. Recent issues are stacked in a dusty upstairs closet, where the newest Eagle on file is dated May 27, 2015. The librarian shrugs at the missing seven months and insists the closet be kept shut so the rest don’t disappear, too.” (Click here for the full article)

It’s heartbreaking to think that the town’s documented history can’t be accessed, researched, enjoyed and explored.  It’s also a strong reminder of why it’s so important to digitize archive material today.  The bound volume and loose printed archives are deteriorating (the paper newspapers were printed on simply does not last forever) and should be preserved as soon as possible.  Microfilm also ages and, while it was the preferred way to preserve an archive decades ago, today’s scanning technology provides a superior image and one that everyone can easily access from any Internet connection.

SmallTownPapers offers a way for newspapers and historical societies to easily digitize archives.  Our product called ArchiveInABox provides all logistics – you simply call to arrange scanning and then pack up a shipment of archive content to get started. They arrange shipping for you as well as online hosting.  To learn more, contact ArchiveInABox today. 

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Tips for seeking grants to pay for archive preservation.

SmallTownPapers’ scanning program, ArchiveInABox, works with numerous organizations that seek grants to pay to digitize the community’s newspaper archive and make it online accessible for everyone to explore and enjoy.  Nearly every community has an organization which provides historical preservation type grant funds so check around and see what’s available in your area.

There are a few steps to help you get organized if you’re about to apply for such grants.

  1. Inventory your newspaper archive.
    You’ll want to know how many newspaper editions and how many pages you are working with. If you have bound volumes, how many are there and how many pages do they contain?  If you have microfilm, how many reels?
  2. Gauge the condition of the archive material.
    Whether you’re working with bound volumes, loose printed newspapers or microfilm, take pictures and notes about the condition of the material. Fragile archives will require white glove handling to protect them.
  3. Consider which you’d like to digitize first.
    Most people think of scanning the oldest material first but often, it is a different decade that may be of the most interest to your community.  Baby boomers, for example, enjoy looking back at childhood and early adult years so the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s may be where you want to begin.  If your community has an anniversary such as a centennial celebration coming up, you may want to begin with that decade.
  4. Research your options for digitizing.
    Do your research, check references, pricing, and make sure that your archive is being handled by organizations with experience and expertise in digitizing archives and scanning often delicate newspaper pages.  If you have bound volumes, ensure they are not taken apart for scanning unless you request it.  If you want a bound volume unbound for scanning, you can request it be rebound though there will be additional costs involved.
  5. Where is the content hosted?
    Think about whether you want the content hosted by the scanning company or you want to upload and host it yourself.  Ask what’s involved in hosting.
  6. Digital scan ownership.
    Check and make sure that you retain ownership and control of the digital scans.

With this information in hand, completing your grant application will be much easier.  Once you have the grant, you will be ready to decide where to begin and when you want to get started.

ArchiveInABox has a proven system that makes it as easy as possible – we send you a shipping container, arrange shipping, scanning and return the original material and scans to you.  Contact us today ( for a quote or to get started.

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Should Newspapers Remove or Redact Archive Content?

As more and more newspaper archives are digitized and made online accessible and searchable, newspapers are receiving requests to remove, block or redact some of their archive content. It happens for a number of reasons and newspapers struggle with the best way to respond.

What should their policy be regarding these requests? Do they redact or unpublish content that has already been published? Do they approach it case by case?

An article published recently by Sylvia Stead in the Globe and Mail does a nice job of outlining the issues and how she approaches the requests. It’s worth reading as this is an issue that is here to stay.

>>Click here to read, “Public Editor: We’re not in the unpublishing business.”

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Creative Methods Newspapers Are Using To Afford Archive Scanning

Guardian 6-18-21 to 6-10-22 Damage_binding 2Newspaper publishers are understandably nervous about their bound volume and loose printed archives. On one hand, they are desperate to have their increasingly fragile newspaper archives scanned and placed online where they can safely be searched by their own staff and the community but on the other hand, they are intimidated by the thought of what it might cost to make that happen.

Today, newspapers are finding creative ways to afford to have their archive scanned. Two newspapers we’ve worked with are talking about the successful methods they used to raise enough money to scan and place their entire archives online.  The secret was their going to the community and asking for support. No one is more eager to have that history online than the people and businesses in the communities the newspapers serve.

There are several ways to go about it. Some newspapers today are going to the community and securing sponsors for the archive digitization – it’s simply selling sponsorships like they do advertising. For businesses, they receive public recognition of their commitment to the community along with print and, in some cases, online promotion.

For Arkansas Catholic Newspaper and The Jewish News of Tidewater, the approach was similar but more of a true community campaign.  Read their case studies below to learn how they did it and you can contact us for more information.

>>Arkansas Catholic Newspaper
>>The Jewish News of Tidewater (Virginia)





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Using Archives To Build Audiences

There’s a great article in today’s Editor and Publisher Daily called “10 Newspapers That Do It Right 2016: Finding Success with Audience, Digital and New Revenue Ideas.”  Writers Adreana Young and Nu Yang profile ten newspapers and how they’re staying ahead of the pack. There are fantastic ideas including one from the StarNews in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The profile on the StarNews says, “The paper’s digital initiatives also helped them remain true to their mission of being community minded. They developed shareable programs centered on community interests and audience involvement. These include contests, voting on photos of the month, polls and quizzes.  The newspaper also utilizes its own archives as a way to build audiences. Strategies, such as #tbt photos and a section on the homepage called StarNews Flashback, where old news stories and advertisements are shared, are among the site’s most popular features.”

That second part is what caught our attention since that is exactly the driver of our program, Discover America’s Story. Your archive content is in high demand and it has endless potential when it comes to engaging your community – including those who have moved away but want to connect to their hometown or the town where their parents lived as children.  Consider the size of the audience interested – your town’s current and past residents.

Because, as the article says, the archive related features “are among the site’s most popular”, local businesses and organizations will want to be a part of your effort to put your archive online. Ask them to sponsor the scanning of bound volume archives and showcase their support. The revenue you generate from sponsorships can more than cover the cost of scanning.  It’s a win-win.

We help newspapers with the scanning of archive content and we can provide easy online hosting for those who would like it. Imagine being able to quickly search and pull a #TBT item to push on social media? Or a local business can search your coverage of the day they opened a facility in your town?

Want to get started? Just contact us today – email or call us at (360) 427-6300.   Ask us about how we can help you secure sponsors for your archive scanning.

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Engage your community by scanning your archive.

In the next couple of weeks, we’re wrapping up two major newspaper archive scanning projects. Both happen to be for religious newspapers which tell wonderfully rich stories of their respective communities.

The organizations we were scanning for have both been a delight to work with and we’re so proud to now see their archives fully accessible and searchable online for everyone to explore and enjoy.

These two organizations have also been spectacular examples of how to tap into a community of people to make an archive preservation project possible.  In one case, the driver of the community campaign to digitize the newspaper archive told us that people were so eager to see the archive online that they started sending checks — people the newspaper hadn’t heard from in years.  The other newspaper launched a similar “angel campaign” that people were eager to be a part of.  The result is the ability to search and explore years of newspaper archives that, until now, were inaccessible.

If you have a community newspaper or even your high school newspaper that you would like to see digitized and made online accessible, encourage the paper to contact us to see how to make it happen. We can also help show publishers how to secure local sponsorships to support digitization.

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A banner year for SmallTownPapers


SmallTownPapers, Inc. started out, more than a decade ago, as a company dedicated to helping small market and community newspapers preserve and make their bound volume archives online accessible.  We’ve worked with publishers to digitize millions of archive pages and host them online where they are now being searched and enjoyed every day.

Over the years, our company has experienced significant growth.  We added ArchiveInABox which provides quality and affordable scanning and digitization services to organizations including newspapers, media groups, historical societies, alumni groups and others with archives they want to preserve. The digitization process has never been easier.  ArchiveInABox provides shipping and all logistics as well as high quality scanning by a team with extensive experience in scanning delicate and fragile material.

Working with newspapers across the country, we discovered the need for a contest platform which is designed specifically for organizations hosting journalism and similar contests.  We created BetterBNC which is an easy to use and affordable online contest platform which now works with hundreds of organizations across North America that hold journalism/news, creative/ad, and public relations contests.

And in 2015, we added Discover America’s Story which is creating the only newspaper archive repository dedicated to weekly and community newspaper archives.  The program helps newspaper ad teams and publishers generate a new revenue stream that can be used to pay to digitize their bound volume archives.  The program experienced immediate success as businesses eagerly signed on to sponsor their community newspaper’s effort to digitally preserve and provide access to the town’s historic archive.  Perhaps best of all for publishers is that they retain all rights and ownership of their digital archive and all profits generated with Discover America’s Story are the newspaper’s to keep.

We are excited to see what the new year will bring and we are grateful to our customers and clients who have been such a pleasure for us to work with.  We wish everyone a happy and successful 2016!

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How to pay to digitize a newspaper archive.

volume2It’s a question we hear all the time from small market and community newspaper publishers across the country. If they’re going to spend money digitizing bound volume newspaper archives, publishers want to know how to monetize it – how to get their investment back.  They know the online archive has tremendous value so how can they make money?

Many have tried placing the archive behind a paywall but few, if any, have found the success they expected. What has worked for publishers, is selling ads against their archive content – making money on the historical archives up front.

This year, we launched a program called Discover America’s Story that is helping newspaper publishers do that.  Participating newspapers sell ad sponsorships against their historic archives and that generates revenue they can apply toward digitization.  We then work with them to scan their bound volumes safely and intact and they have complete ownership of the newly created digital archive.  It’s a program publishers should take a look at if they’re eager to digitize but have put it off because of the cost – or take a look at some of the program’s case studies.  Check out for details.

**The site also offers free searchable access to dozens of small town and community newspaper archives you can easily explore online.

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