Saturday, October 6, 2012

Bangor Newspaper Digitization Project (You Can Help) - Part I

Bangor, Van Buren County is about to be the next Michigan hometown to have its newspaper, spanning 110 years, brought into the digital age.  Thanks to a large monetary gift to the Bangor Branch Library of the Van Buren District Library, about half of the cost of the project is already in place.

Work has begun to digitize the Bangor Advance [other titles included Bangor Reflector, West Michigan Advance, Advance and Reflector, Bangor Journal, Van Buren Advance, Van Buren Advance Union, Bangor Trust Express,  The Advance, and Van Buren County Visitor], using original newspapers when possible.

The extant Bangor newspapers, 1875-1983, were microfilmed in 1987 through a project sponsored by the Bangor Arts & Crafts Council.  Since that time, the 82 microfilm reel set has been available for use by family & local history historians at the Bangor Branch Library, the Library of Michigan, and the Local History department of the Van Buren District Library in Decatur.  Filming was done using negative images, i.e., black background with white print.  For this and other reasons, images of many of the earlier years are difficult to read and even more difficult to make readable prints from the film.

It is statistically proven that character recognition is considerably higher from digital images created by original newspapers than those created from microfilm images.  Couple this with the fact that most of the original Bangor newspapers are still available, it was decided to use these original issues for the project.  The cost per image for this method is higher as it requires more hands-on time, but it best insures the maximum preservation and text search capabilities of these papers that are in an elevated state of deterioration.

"We are excited at the prospect of bringing the Bangor newspaper to a more accessible & usable format," indicated Bobbi Martindale, Bangor Branch librarian.  "Although it's been wonderful to have the film here for our patrons to use, we have no film printing capabilities, and in many cases even if we had, the images were too poor for printing."

"The gift from a local women's group of about half of the cost of this project will get us rolling," continued Martindale, "but we are going to need additional monetary assistance to finish the project.  It is our hope that once word gets out that we are creating a more usable, permanent record of our local paper, area individuals & organizations will help chip in the rest of the cost."

Not all of the original Bangor newspapers that were used in the original filming have surfaced 25 years later.  Thanks to the efforts of Robert Emmert of Bangor, most of the earliest years, 1875-1955, have been located.  The Van Buren District Library has been able to provide full coverage to the years 1981 thru 1985, and partial holdings for the years 1961 thru 1980.  However, it is hoped that the complete collection of issues for those years are still in private hands and may be located and borrowed long enough to complete the digitization process.

More next time:
  1. How you can make a monetary donation for the Bangor digitization project
  2. Listing of those Bangor newspapers that were missing from the filming in 1987
  3. How you may assist with preparing the original newspapers for digitization
  4. How you may help with the loan of original Bangor newspapers
  5. Will the digital Bangor newspapers go online?
Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown family group
Photographer - McCollum, Decatur
Can you identify the family in this cabinet card?  Do you have knowledge of the photographer?  Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.