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LSU Libraries to digitize Louisiana newspapers

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The LSU Libraries is pleased to announce the list of historical Louisiana newspapers that will be digitized as part of a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Based on input from an Advisory Board of historians, educators, and archivists, project staff have selected 56 titles representing the main regions of Louisiana, rich with articles on historical events, interesting advertisements, and much more contained in newspapers published from 1860 through 1922.

Project Graduate Assistant, Laura Charney, collects data from each microfilmed page to determine the feasibility of digitizing the reel.

Project Graduate Assistant, Laura Charney, collects data from each microfilmed page to determine the feasibility of digitizing the reel.

“The goal for this first-round selection is to cover a wide range of the places, eras and history of Louisiana,” said Elaine Smyth, Head of Special Collections and project co-director. Continued Smyth, “People will be able to explore the digitized newspapers in ways that are not possible with microfilm. The online version of the paper will be full text searchable, so individuals can search by any term they choose, and go straight to the page of their choice.” Louisiana newspapers will be available for free online at the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website by July 2011.

“From the list of top-ranked titles chosen by the Advisory Board, the staff analyzed every reel in order to identify the best candidates for digitization,” explained Digitizing Louisiana Newspapers Project Manager Athena Jackson. “A good candidate reel contains images with very little deterioration due to age or sometimes the poor physical state of the original newspaper that was filmed. We need good images to ensure that all the features of online searching are possible.” Project staff carefully reviewed each reel and determined the titles best suited for digitization.

The next step of the project is to duplicate and digitize the microfilmed newspaper.  “This is an ambitious project because there are many technical specifications in a digitization project to consider, as well as providing a useful resource that enriches access to historical newspapers,” said Gina Costello, project co-director.  The digitized images will be converted to keyword searchable files and added incrementally to the Library of Congress’ website.

The project is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership between the NEH and the Library of Congress (LC) launched in 2005 to provide enhanced access to United States newspapers.  Currently NDNP has 22 state partners. Louisiana is one of seven added in 2009, to digitize 100,000 newspaper pages. Visit the Chronicling America website to explore newspapers from across the country, and stay tuned this fall for the first batch of papers to begin appearing from Louisiana.

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