Read All About It: Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library
By: Matt Kiley - Advantage Archives
An Advantage project was recently featured in the Manchester Cricket of Manchester, MA. The article outlines the efforts of the Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library to preserve and provide access to it’s community history by digitizing every edition of the Cricket published since its founding in 1888!
They say a newspaper is the first draft of a community’s history. For 131 years, the Cricket has served that purpose for Manchester and, since 1919, for Essex as well. And today, we’re happy to report that every edition of the Cricket published since its founding in 1888 has been digitized into a permanent archive that will have its home at the Manchester Public Library.
The effort was done as an equal collaboration between the Friends of the Manchester Library and the Manchester Cricket. The announcement was made by outgoing Friends of Library president Joan Wogan and Manchester Cricket Editor Erika Brown at a joint event, “Authors & Friends” book signing, to benefit the library that took place Sunday (over an incredible spread) at Allie’s Beach Street Cafe.
“It was truly a great partnership,” Wogan told attendees, with Brown adding, “a rare example of two partners with equal needs and an equal ability to help each other.” Preserving a newspaper’s spring archive by creating a searchable, digital database is critical for any paper today. But Starting the project from scratch is both extensive and expensive. Typically (as would have been the case with the Cricket’s paper library), the digitization process is a labor-intensive one, requiring one-at-a-time, “OCR” (“optical character recognition” for those interested) computer scanning of each page.
“It was truly a great partnership,” Wogan told attendees, with Brown adding, “a rare example of two partners with equal needs and an equal ability to help each other.”
But once compiled, the record is complete, digital (so, permanent) and most importantly, searchable by key word. That’s the gold standard, and that is what the paper was looking to do early in 2019 because , after all, with a paper archive there is only one truth: “time is not your friend.”
Unbeknownst to the Cricket’s editorial staff, the Manchester Library was contemplating the same challenge. Specifically, Sara Collins, head librarian, had identified digitization of the Library’s microfiche collection of the Cricket (processed from newspapers dutifully supplied by every owner of the Cricket since it was started in 1888) as a key initiative. For the last several years, that initiative was sent by Collins to the Friends of the Library on her wish list of unfunded priorities. Collins had researched appropriate vendors for the project and had selected one with a “strike zone” in digitizing newspaper archives for libraries (Advantage Archives).
Wogan approached Brown about the project and very quickly realized their interests were aligned. And because the digitization was starting from microfiche instead of paper, the process was more efficient and cost-effective. Brown met with the FOL Board in February, the agreed to split costs down the middle and by April, the project was initiated.
The archive is now complete, and it will go live at the Library and on-line for subscribers of the newspaper by the end of July. There will be some parameters for access. For instance, access to the archive will always end at 10 years from the print year to preserve the value of the Cricket’s current business. When it goes live at the Library, details for using the archive will be available.
Connect Your Community To Its History! Explore A Partnership With Advantage & Discover “History As it Happened “. Use the form below to connect with us, and let’s discuss way’s we can ensure your local history is easily accessible!