Library gets $60,288 grant to place 60 years of newspaper’s archives on web
Stories...are trapped in microfilm, much like the dinosaur DNA that was encapsulated in amber rock in the book, “Jurassic Park.” It is the Singletary Library’s dream to capture 57 years of history on microfilm, digitize the data and set it free on the world wide web, so that historians – present and future – can gaze into the mirror that is Rusk, and see the milestones of a small, rural city that has shared some of its best and brightest with the rest of the world.
– from the Tocker Foundation grant application for the Cherokeean Herald project
On April 27, Cherokeean Herald managing editor Terrie Gonzalez burst out of her office, a smile on her face.
“We got it! We got it!”
After four months of waiting, Mrs. Gonzalez and Singletary Memorial Library head librarian Amy Derrington received the news they had been waiting for: the library received a $60,288 grant through the Tocker Foundation for the digitization of microfilm of the Cherokeean Herald newspaper. The library currently has microfilm for each issue of the paper from 1950 to the present.
“Microfilm is pretty much obsolete, so all of the issues will be digitized,” Ms. Derrington said. “Once we get everything digitalized, we won’t have to do a manual search of each microfilm. We can do one search online. It will be a great new resource.”
The grant was one of two given out by the Tocker Foundation for their first funding period, which stretched from January to May.
The foundation’s executive director, Darryl Tocker, said that the foundation received between 40-45 applications for thefirstperiodandtworecipients were chosen – the cities of Rusk and Breckenridge.
“We only finished and developed the grant process three years ago,” he said. “So far, we’ve awarded the grant to five newspapers and libraries, including the two this year.
“Not every application gets funded. We’re trying to focus on the digitization of historic newspapers in communities where there is a significant need.”
The Tocker Foundation works hand-in-hand with the University of North Texas, who handles the actual digitization of the microfilm.
“Thefoundationhassupported libraries since 1990,” Mr. Tocker said. “Librarians have realized that (back copies of newspapers) have been important resources for years and have made them available to the public.
“We came to realize when we started this grant that the local newspaper is the first source of history for the region. The best way to give out that information is to digitize those papers and make them available online. We’ve come up with a good, searchable process and it has worked out wonderfully.”
Ms. Derrington said that the digitization will help the community at large by making information available to any interested parties.
“The back copies of the Cherokeean are a large source of history,” she said. “The grant will benefit genealogy research – obituaries, marriage records and major happenings – through online searches.”
Mrs. Gonzalez said that the project will allow the entire community to research and learn more about the city and county in which they reside.
“A local newspaper is a mirror image of the community it serves,” she said.
“The most important beneficiaries of these archives will be the thousands of school children who will have access to this information, not only from the Singletary Library, but from their computers at school and at home. Everyone will be able to make connections with the past through this preserved archive.”