Every newspaper in the state of Minnesota is sent to the Minnesota Historical Society, in accordance with state statutes. For decades, every newspaper (at last count about 425, mostly weeklies) was made accessible to the public via microfilm. However in the midst of a budget crunch, on June 30, 2009, the state closed its microfilm lab.
Now the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) has created a new, and probably better, plan: a digital newspaper database for researchers, called Minnesota Newspapers Online. It should launch within two years.
Instead of mailing newspapers to MHS, publishers will now upload digital copies of their print editions to an MHS database. This database of recent newspapers will join a patchwork of older digitized newspapers.
This should greatly improve the ease of use for everyone. Instead of spending hours cranking through reel after reel of microfilm, searching for a name, genealogists will now type in a name, and all of the stories containing that name should pop up within two or three seconds.
You can read more in an article by Mark W. Olson in the Chaska Herald at http://goo.gl/dcrnb.
My thanks to newsletter reader Doris Coghill for telling me about this story.