The Sunshine Coast Museum and Archive’s newspaper digitization project is expected to go live this weekend, giving residents and researchers access to editions of the Coast News dating back to 1945.
“The files are made so you can search them by keyword, so it’s really handy,” said manager and curator Kimiko Hawkes. “It’s better than microfilm, where you get completely car sick just looking through reams and reams of these files.”
The project was announced last summer, when the museum was approved for grant funding to begin the project.
Hawkes said that the museum’s original aim was to develop the digital database on its own, but that they quickly learned that the cost would be prohibitive.
A partnership with the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) BC Historical Newspaper project saved the day, allowing the museum to simply pass along the files for upload to an existing database.
The earliest additions of the Coast News are expected to join an existing list of 24 historical newspapers in the province.
The on-line files are quickly searchable by keyword and editions can also be sought out by date, making local research a much more simple and expedited process.
A second phase is expected next year, should funding allow, that will see the later editions of the Coast News digitized, as well as copies of the Peninsula Times currently being stored at the Sechelt Archives.
Hawkes said she expected the project to be officially launched Aug. 11, accessible worldwide through the Museum and Archives website at www.sunshinecoastmuseum.ca.
The museum is hosting an open house on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. where the public is invited to come out and see the project launched.
She added her expectation that the second phase would be rolled out faster than the first, owing to the partnership with UBC.
But there have been bumps along the way. Community papers like the Coast News are relatively young in the eyes of copyright law. The current owner had warned those working on the project that he couldn’t guarantee all the material belonged to him.
“There’s freelance reporters, there’s people who just donate photos,” Hawkes explained. “There’s no way to track down who owns what and we can’t assume that the paper owned everything.”
This made the UBC legal time a tad nervous, she said, but “they finally just took the bullet and took the risk
“We’re grateful,” she said.