Future Technology Reveals Coronado’s Past - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

Future Technology Reveals Coronado’s Past

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Posted: Friday, June 28, 2019 3:49 pm

Nothing provides a more comprehensive history of Coronado than back issues of our local paper. Now, thanks to digitization and keyword search technology, reports from the Eagle and its predecessors, going all the way from 1887 until November of 2018, can be searched online through the library’s website. Special collections assistant, Candice Hooper, describes how the newspaper digitization project has captured Coronado’s past:

In 2012, we began investigating how we could digitize our holdings of various Coronado newspapers on microfilm. We had newspapers dating back to 1887, when Coronado was first being developed, up to the present. As might be expected, several newspapers had come and gone, or been absorbed into each other, and for one period, there was no newspaper at all. What was certain was using the microfilm reader-printer was cumbersome. Only one person could use it at a time, and they had to come into the library to use it. While we had been compiling our own index to the newspapers, this primarily covered the recent past, and it left much to be desired. The technology of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) as a keyword searching tool was very enticing. The cost of digitizing and indexing our entire collection of well over 100 reels of microfilm, however was daunting. We also required national standards be applied.

We were fortunate to have made contact with, and explored our options through, the California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC) based at the University of California at Riverside. Working with its Director, Brian Geiger, we continued discussions over a two-year period as we explored financial options. We were supported in our efforts to make this a viable possibility through a bequest from Judith Bond. Judith had been a regular library user and had worked as an archivist at the Hotel del Coronado. Her family was supportive of this project, and once we received an estimate from Brian at CDNC, we knew we could afford to process 120 reels, covering 1887 through 2013. Grayscale would be used to have good quality reproduction of the newspaper graphics (as good as we could get from microfilm).

Before we went any further, then Library Director Christian Esquevin talked with Dean Eckenroth, the publisher of the current newspaper, Coronado Eagle-Journal. He had started the more recent Eagle newspaper and had bought out the Coronado Journal, which included copyright to that newspaper and several amalgamated papers back to public domain in 1922. It was necessary to get his permission to have article-level indexing of those newspapers. Dean has had a long and positive relationship with the Coronado Public Library and was happy to grant this request.

At this point, the Historical Newspaper project involved sending the back-up duplicate set of all our microfilm reels to UC Riverside. The reels would be outsourced for scanning and digitizing, and then processed with a proprietary program to index for keyword and article-level searching. This process took just over a year. Our microfilm holdings represented nine newspapers with several other title changes and contained over 150,000 pages of newsprint. Extra time was spent segregating a couple of short-term newspaper publications and editing all the results. All images in the newspapers were included, and their metadata indexed.

When the first test results appeared, we were not disappointed. The ability to do internet searches and find full-text pages and articles from Coronado newspapers was exhilarating. The collection is hosted by the CDNC, and the public can access it directly or from a link on the Coronado Public Library’s homepage. The public response has been tremendous and use of the newspaper database has been heavy.

More recently, we have added coverage of the newspaper through November 2018, going directly from its digital source to the indexing process at CDNC. This project has been one of the most successful and gratifying special projects ever conducted by the Coronado Public Library.

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