The Conway Public Library: Helping Connect The Community To Its Past!
By: Jeffrey Kiley - Advantage Archives
The digitization of the North Conway Reporter is the first project in a plan to eventually digitize the entire Reporter collection, which published continuously for about 100 years starting in the 1890s.
On February 14th, the Conway Public Library announced that they will be partnering with Advantage Archives to digitize the North Conway Reporter, currently only available on microfilm. An article that ran in the Conway Daily Sun spread the good news that soon the community would be able to experience “history as it happened” in the pages of the old newspapers. The project was made possible thanks in part to a grant from the Henny Historical Fund. We are excited to partner with them to digitize this collection, and create a Community History Archive and making this rich content available online.
There are many advantages to using historic newspapers in a digitized form over traditional microfilm. Researchers would be able to perform keyword searching of the Reporter for the first time so the speed by which information can be found would be much greater.
~Conway Daily Sun, February 14th, 2019
Conway, New Hampshire
Founded in 1900, the mission of the Conway Public Library is to create an environment that promotes lifelong learning and community engagement. To meet that end the library collects and provides access to materials in print and digital form that meets the intellectual and cultural needs of the community. In addition to this, the library serves as a critical meeting space for programs where ideas are exchanged and relationships are built.
The Conway Library has always been dedicated to ensuring that Mount Washington Valley history is easily accessible. In 1976, The Nella Braddy Henney History Room was established by Keith Henney, in honor of his late wife Nella Braddy Henney. As historians, they understood the importance of connecting their community to the past. As a result, it holds historical materials for twenty-seven towns New Hampshire and Western Oxford County, Maine.
The library’s website describes their history room as more than a “traditional” history reading room. Offering a number of outreach programs, and “hands on” programs such as field trips to the Redsone Quarry, historic textiles, the role of the Mount Washington Valley in polar exploration, and so on. The new Community History Archive will be an exciting new addition to the other valuable online resources they have developed, such as walking and driving tours, historical signage, and an their fantastic ongoing blog (which we highly recommend following!).
The Community History Archives are user friendly, and easy to learn. We focused on making it as simple as possible, so that everyone…from students to grandparents (and everyone in between) can browse, search, view, clip and share articles, headlines, pages, and stories recorded in the pages of the community newspaper.. Just type a search and hit “enter” or browse to a specific year, month, day or page in any (or all) publications contained in the archive.
We fully recognize that the history recorded in the pages of a community’s newspaper is invaluable. It puts historical events in perspective, allows us to view those events through the lens of someone who was there and witnessed “history as it happened”. It also allows us to connect to our past in a real and tangible way. This cultural asset must be protected and preserved so future generations can can have access to the “first draft of history”.