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‘One Fire Away’: Why Ontario Communities Are Digitizing Their Newspapers

17 Dec 2020 3:50 PM | Anonymous

As COVID-19 accelerates the closure of publications across the province, there’s a growing sense of urgency to make sure records of local history survive. After all, one fire can destroy 100 years or even more of local history. Making the information available online in digital format guarantees preservation, widespread availability, and ease of access for everyone who might be interested.

According to a story by Marsha McLeod, published in the web site:

"In the spring of 2017, Allan J. MacDonald set out to preserve fragile copies of Glengarry County’s newspapers in a more permanent location: the internet. With 25 years of experience at the Archives of Ontario behind him, MacDonald had the right skills for the delicate task. So, nearly a decade into his retirement, he tackled the job as Glengarry’s county archivist — a volunteer role.

"Over four months, MacDonald prepared more than 25,000 newspaper pages for digitization, working in a 4,000-square-foot space inside the Glengarry District High School. Five days a week, he carefully cut volumes from their bindings, unfolded dog-eared pages, repaired tears, and placed completed pages into large acid-free folders — making use of nearly two kilometres of archival tape in the process.

"With the help of a vendor, which digitized each page, the collection is now available on the Glengarry County Archives’ website; the earliest editions date back to 1887 for the now-defunct Glengarrian and to 1892 for the Glengarry News."

Later in the same article, the project coordinator for OurDigitalWorld, a non-profit dedicated to helping communities create digital collections of local history, says, "... demand for online resources is up, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be increasing the ranks of at-home family historians and those interested in genealogy."

You can read the entire article at:

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