An article by Christopher Bouchard in TheCounty web site caught my eye. He describes the services of the library and focuses on the ongoing digitization effort of old newspapers being conducted by the library staff. The article caught my eye because it (1.) described a valuable archive, (2.) described the digitization of old newspapers and documents, (3.) describes the library’s project to use imaging software to record digital images of physical items from the past, and (4.) because I used to live in Caribou a long time ago.
NOTE: When I lived there, I thought Caribou, Maine was the coldest place on earth. About a year later, the U.S. military sent me to a 15-month assignment in Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada. I changed my mind about which location had the claim to being the coldest.
There are well over a thousand newspapers stored in the building, and Caribou Public Library Director Anastasia Weigle said one of her main objectives as an archivist is to keep the content of those papers alive via digitizing. About 2,776 pages of the Aroostook Republican from 1880 to 1899 are currently available in digital format at http://caribou.advantage-preservation.com and can be browsed by date of publication or via keyword search.
Meanwhile, several issues of the paper have been archived in both microfilm and CD format, which is superior to the physical copies in terms of longevity, but inferior to the digital archive as they are not indexed and searchable. Digitizing these papers is essential, as the acidic nature of newspapers makes them susceptible to degradation over time.
“Archivists know it’s not the newspaper that’s valuable,” said Weigle, “but the content in that paper. We have a number of publications we can’t even bring out of the box because they’re just falling apart.
The library is still seeking funds to do more of the digitizing.
I will suggest this story shows how local libraries can digitize and preserve the history and even physical artifacts of their local communities. You can read a lot more at: https://thecounty.me/2018/07/16/news/caribou-library-archives-date-back-to-late-19th-century/.