03 July 2008

Canada falling further behind on newspaper digitization

The announcement copied below on the US cooperative National Digital Newspaper Program is an occasion to again reflect on the situation in Canada.

The latest score: US - $1.9 million, Canada - a big fat zero.

I turned to LAC's recent, attractively produced but undated, document Moving Ahead in an attempt to find out what's happening. Sorry there no hyperlink -- strangely it's not online!

In its 46 pages, which proclaims using digital technology and putting information at people's fingertips as goals, there's not a single mention of newspaper digitization, and precious little mention of newspapers. Where is the recognition of newspapers as local sources for our history, and digitization as a means of making them available? That reality has not eluded others.

Perhaps LAC has taken a deliberate decision to abandon this part of the organization's mandate. There's no newspaper specialist within LAC as Sandra Burrows, who left the organization abruptly, has not been replaced.

So LAC, just what are the organization's plans on newspaper digitization?

Here's the US press release.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced on June 17, 2008, awards totaling $1,867,883 for six successful applicants representing their states in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). This funding will support the selection and digitization of historic American newspapers published between 1880 and 1922, by each participating state, according to NDNP guidelines. The Library of Congress (LC) will make these newspapers available to the public through the Chronicling America Website (http://www.loc.gov/chroniclingamerica) beginning in mid-2009. The six 2008 awardees - Arizona Department of Libraries, Archives and Public Records; University of Hawaii-Manoa; Ohio Historical Society; State Historical Society of Missouri; Pennsylvania State University; and Washington State Library; - will join 9 states already participating in the program.

NDNP, a partnership between the NEH and the LC, is a long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of all U.S. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages. Supported by NEH, this rich digital resource will be developed and permanently maintained at the Library of Congress. The NEH grant program will fund the contribution of content from, eventually, all U.S. states and territories.

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