Nome Nugget Digitization: Update

Hello friends,

Do you ever feel like sometimes things sometimes just don’t go right? Or that they take much longer than they should, and it’s a process of one step forward and two steps back? The ongoing re-shooting of the bound volumes of the Nome Nugget on the Bookeye scanner sure feels that way.

Just this week we opened up the 1917-1918 volume, only to find that it had sections of pages torn or cut. Because this is our “master copy” of the newspaper, this is really bad news. Unfortunately, we have to make due with what we have; an existing paper, however damaged, is better than no paper at all. Thanks to the expertise of our Sandy Johnston, one of our stellar colleagues in the Historical Collections division at the State Library, we were able to piece together a few pages to our best abilities using mylar sleeves of plastic.

Old newsprint is very fragile and is prone to crumble upon contact. Mylar plastic uses its static electricity to help keep these pages of torn newsprint together- especially when pages need to be flipped over to film the reverse side!

Bound volume of the Nome Nugget open to a torn page with articles cut out and mylar plastic placed under the first page.

Notice the mylar behind the fourth page to try to keep the torn pieces of newsprint together. Image courtesy of the author.

As you can see in the above image, bits and pieces of torn newsprint make filming a challenge. It can feel like a puzzle to piece together parts of the paper. Even with the mylar, though, the glass plate attached to the BookEye scanner that flattens the page may shift these pieces. It requires a great deal of patience and care to film the newspaper so that words can still be detected for optical character recognition (OCR).

image operator Greg has his back to the camera as he folds over a page of the bound volume and places an acid-free paperboard behind the clear plastic mylar sleeve that holds together the torn newsprint.

To film the entire torn page without the front page of the next issue, image operator Greg places an acid-free paperboard behind the clear plastic mylar sleeve that holds together the torn newsprint. Image courtesy of the author.

What all this has driven home is the importance of proper archival stewardship. Don’t make assumptions that there are backup copies of anything, especially because these are our master copies. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure! Fortunately,  there are always solutions- no matter how dire a preservation problem seems.

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Project Update: Funding Approved!

Hooray! Hoopla!

Image credit: The daily morning Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 18 March 1902. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Hello all,

Exciting news on the project front: a representative from the National Endowment for the Humanities contacted the Alaska State Library to notify us that we have been approved for an additional funding cycle from 2018 through 2020. This means that we can continue to produce content for Chronicling America and make historic Alaska newspapers online and text-searchable, free of charge.

In addition, we recently received a phone call from the office of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski congratulating us on the work in progress, and on the project thus far.

Work has already started on this next cycle, as we are continuing to digitize and input metadata for the National Digital Newspaper Program.

From all of us at the Alaska State Library, we are thrilled to continue this project for another round, and for patrons to be able to search historic Alaska newspapers online.

Update: 4 New Alaska Newspapers Available to View on Chronicling America!

digitized newspapers

Greetings all,

Exciting news! As of this week, Chronicling America has made available 4 new Alaska newspapers, available here: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/newspapers/?state=Alaska&ethnicity=&language=.

These include:

The Cordova daily times: October 1, 1920 – April 14, 1923

The Alaska citizen: April 9, 1910 – October 1, 1917

The Weekly Alaska citizen: October 8, 1917 – December 31, 1917

The Daily Alaska citizen:  October 31, 1918 – January 30, 1920

Within the coming months, we are expecting additional new titles and more pages added to Chronicling America. And as always, we will provide any updates as they come in.

Happy searching!

 

Microfilm Quality Control: Or, What Can Possibly Go Wrong?

Greetings, all!

Last week, we provided an update on the re-filming the Nome Nugget. To delve a bit deeper in the topic, I’d like to share some background on the process of filming newspaper- specifically, what we look for in controlling the quality of newspaper images.

Human Error

When looking through microfilm, an occasional, unexpected sight appears:

microfilm invader

(Photo credit: Historical Tennessee Newspapers on Pinterest)

Hands and fingers secure pages when shooting an image, and at worst can cover text in an image and make it difficult to read. This problem is not limited to newspapers, however. Eagle-eyed readers on Google Books have compiled several instances of imaging tech’s fingers, such as these ones:

tumblr_n0lb28U6ED1qixa76o1_1280

Photo credit: The Art of Google Books Tumblr

Some of these errors are linked to the need to speed up production, at the expense of overall image quality. (The Google Books project has its share of images that document unexpected findings within its digital pages: theartofgooglebooks.tumblr.com)

Moire

Have you ever tried to take a photo of something on a computer screen? If so, then you’re familiar with the pattern that appears in these images:

moirenewspaper

There’s a name for that effect: Moire. It’s a pattern formed by two sets of parallel lines slightly distorted:

Moiré_pattern.svg

(Photo credit: Wikimedia commons)

This term is also used in the world of fashion as a type of effect with fabric often seen in silk and damask worn in portraits of noblemen and women.

In addition, another type of fabric, called shot silk, combines two colors, one on the warp (the top of the weave) another on the weft (the side of the weave), to create a color-changing effect depending on where the light hits it:

Salzburg_Mattes_2013-08-03_(31)

Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

Similarly, when taking a photo of a computer screen, frequencies create a visual effect.

When images are filmed on the Book Eye or the Mekel microfilming machine, they are filmed without a digital interface, and therefore without the moire effect.

Book/Newspaper errors

These errors pose an interesting question: when filming, how much of the actual document should people see? For instance, filmed fingers on pages or handwritten marginalia or entire articles cut out allows the reader to view the document not as a newspaper in a vacuum, but as a copy that others have held and read in the past.

We at the National Digital Newspaper Project do our best to provide newspaper images from original microfilm- and many times the images show marginalia on the pages (usually to correct the dates or issue numbers). One could argue that these errors recreate an experience we’re more accustomed to when dealing with physical objects: stains, marginalia, bookmarks, and even pressed flowers come into play in this digital format. More often than not, an actual person is the one opening the pages and shooting the images. These errors, then, allow us to see the human side of the process.

Many thanks to The Art of Google Books (http://theartofgooglebooks.tumblr.com/) and to Historic Tennessee Newspapers on Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/historictnnews/microfilm-invaders/) !

Stay tuned for next week’s post on newspaper as a preservation priority!

Re-Filming the Nome Nugget

Greetings, all!

Even though production has ended on the 2016-2018 National Digital Newspaper Program cycle, we are still hard at work. One particular area of focus is on the venerable Nome Nugget, the oldest continually published newspaper in Alaska. Our Micrographics department is busy re-filming bound volumes of the Nome Nugget from 1911-1924 to include on Chronicling America. The current state of its microfilm is rather poor, as you can see here:

Nome Nugget 1900

Fortunately, the Alaska State Library still has issues of the Nome Nugget from which to shoot better microfilm copies. These issues come in large bound volumes of newsprint, and roughly the size of a standard newspaper today. To film each page, we scan an image on a machine called a Book Eye:

Nome Nugget 1

To capture an image as crisp as possible, we are filming the pages without the glass plate in front. Once the Book Eye scans a page, the image shows up on a screen, which Amber Glen from the Micrographics Department uses to assess the image quality:

Nome Nugget 2

Once an image is saved, we use that digital copy to compile into a master microfilm reel once a volume has been scanned in its entirety. Thanks to her efforts, and those of everyone in the Micrographics Department at the Alaska State Library, we now have high-resolution digital images that will one day be text-searchable on Chronicling America. In other words, a drastic change from images like these:

Nome Nugget 1912 A

To sharper, more legible pages like this:

Nome Nugget 1912 B

Stay tuned for next week’s post on microfilming quality control!

Featured Content: Batch II: What to Expect

The second batch of Alaskan historical newspaper pages has been accepted for ingest in Chronicling America!  Batch II will include two titles, the remainder of Douglas Island News and the beginning of The Daily Alaskan.  These titles will be available on Chronicling America in December.  Currently available titles for searching are the Alaska Daily Empire (1912-1917), Douglas Island News (1898-1907), and The Thlinget (full run, 1908-1912).

Batch II Details:

  1. Douglas Island news, Douglas City, AK, 1907-1922
  2. The daily Alaskan, Skagway, AK, 1898-1905

For more information on these and other titles visit the Alaska State Library’s page on Alaska Historical Newspapers.

 

FIRST BATCH LIVE!

The first batch of Alaskan historical newspapers is live on Chronicling America – FREE for you to search.     CLICK HERE!

AlaskaDailyEmpire_1915DevelopmentIssue_ChronAm_Mill_Search_screenshot

The 1915 Development Number issue of The Alaska Daily Empire, shown in Chronicling America. Highlighted text represents a search for the term “mill”.

NOW AVAILABLE:

1,206 issues of The Alaska Daily Empire (1912-1918), 448 issues of the Douglas Island News (1898-1907), and 47 issues of The Thlinget (1908-1912).

These digitized newspaper pages are TEXT SEARCHABLE.  For tips on searching check out our previous post, Searching Chronicling America, or visit the Help page.

To start exploring Alaskan papers in Chronicling America CLICK HERE or visit Chronicling America and use the dropdown menu to select “Alaska”.

………

Happy Searching!