The Thompson-Nicola Regional District Library System (TNRDLS) has recently completed digitizing all issues of The Clinton Lariat, enabling anyone who wants to look up back issues of the paper to do so online via the Newshound project.
The Lariat joins other area newspapers—such as Kamloops This Week, The Kamloops Daily News, The Merritt Herald, and Merritt News—in the online world, and Melissa Lowenberg, supervisor of support services for the TNRDLS, would like to see more papers added to Newshound.
“We began work on identifying papers, finding funding, and getting permissions in 2013,” she says. Having access to the papers is key, and she says that the Kamloops City Museum and Archives, the Thompson Rivers University archives, and the Nicola Valley Museum and Archives have all come on board as partners.
“Each year, as we can, we identify communities that have papers in museums, archives, and historical societies, and will then try to go forward with permissions,” says Lowenberg. Her predecessor at the project estimated there were some 1,000,000 images within the TNRD that could be scanned, and so far the project has scanned close to 300,000 of them.
The project is funded through the TNRD, the Kamloops City Museum and Archives, and TRU, and Lowenberg says they have been fortunate to receive matching funds from the Irving K. Barber Foundation. She adds that the TNRD will continue to fund the project so new papers can be added.
The Newshound site (http://arch.tnrdlib.ca/) is fully word searchable, and there are no user fees, making it available to everyone no matter where they are.
Lowenberg says that as of spring 2017 there will be a new interface at the site, making it more compatible with mobile devices. Users will no longer need a pdf reader to view papers, and pages can be previewed rather than just downloaded, making it easier for people who live “where broadband isn’t so broad,” she laughs.
The papers are sent to a digitization firm in Vancouver, although Lowenberg acknowledges that the project also depends on volunteers, who prepare the pages for digitization. She also stresses that the digitization of the currently available issues of a newspaper is not the end of the project. “Digitization will continue on an ongoing basis. It’s not a one-time thing.”
Part of the challenge is finding content, identifying copyright holders, and getting permissions. This was not an issue with The Lariat, where publisher and owner Clare Warner granted permission and supplied digital copies of current editions.
The paper’s first edition appeared on April 1, 2000. The front page celebrates the 1999 Citizen of the Year, Janet Lowe, as well as a new look for what was then the Quesnel and District Credit Union branch. The area was about to get 911 service, preparations were underway for the 133rd annual Clinton Ball, mayor Robin Fennell reported that the village had had to hire a dog catcher, and South Cariboo MLA Dave Zirnhelt confirmed he was running again in the next election.
Lowenberg is pleased to have The Lariat as part of the Newshound project. “Clinton, given its history, has a deep appreciation for history. This is a win-win for everyone.” She adds that there is so much information contained in old newspapers, and not just the stories: ads from long ago are a fascinating glimpse into the past. “There’s other value than just the content you’re looking for.
“It brings the world to your doorstep. I think it’s an amazing project, bringing history to the digital age. It’s where the future and the past meet.”