Hamilton turns microfilm to digital - Ka Leo O Hawaii: NEWS

Hamilton turns microfilm to digital

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Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 5:00 am

"Prior to the Chronicling America project, students and researchers had to go to libraries and scroll through microfilm of old newspapers," wrote librarian Joan Hori in an email.

Librarians at Hamilton are working to digitize historic newspapers as part of the Chronicling America project. Digital versions are uploaded free to the public on the Chronicling America website, along with other digitized newspapers from various states.

Searchability is one of the advantages of digitizing these archives. "There may have been indexes that led to articles, but often indexes were not available. ... [This new system] also provides for word, name, and phrase searching, often saving people many hours of searching time," according to Hori.

The images in the digital files can be enlarged, downloaded, enhanced, copied, and pasted easily - making them far more usable and useful than the old microfilm images. Librarian Martha Chantiny explained, "Microfilm would get scratched and become more difficult to use, while the digital file remains (theoretically) the same and doesn't get misfiled or lost on the shelves."

The project covers many Hawaiian newspapers prior to 1922, but anything more current than that is limited by copyright restrictions, according to Hori.

The project also digitizes historical essays about the newspapers to, as Chantiny explained, "increase use and understanding of primary research materials. The historical essays and the topic guides we create are designed to help teachers, students and any lifelong learner see the context of the newspaper and how to ‘mine' the information."

Hamilton Library has also submitted a grant proposal for 2012-2014 to digitize more issues of the Honolulu Star Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser. But Chantiny explained that they would still have about "200,000 possible pages from the Star Bulletin and Advertiser, plus the Hilo Tribune and Maui newspapers."

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