Sudbury library embarks on digitizing newspaper microfilm

By: Matt Kiley - Advantage Archives
The Goodnow Library of Sudbury, Massachusetts hopes to partner with Advantage Preservation to digitize its collection of the town’s local newspapers that date back to 1915.

The project, pending funding, would make 150,000 pages of local newspaper microfilm easily accessible online.

If the library receives funding, the film will be sent to Advantage to digitize the microfilm and create a community history archive. Goodnow Library attended a meeting that Advantage account manager Grant Kaestner presented at in a recent visit to Massachusetts. Titles would include long-gone papers such as the Sudbury Enterprise, Sudbury Citizen and Fence Viewer, as well as today’s Town Crier with stories on everything from the crowning of “Mrs. Sudbury” to a former schools superintendent charged with conspiracy.

Library director Esme Green called the current system “cumbersome.” Users cannot search keywords and the equipment is difficult, meaning research can take hours. Access to information is also limited, because anyone who wants to search the collection would need to come to the library.

“Sometimes, a person will come to us and say, ‘I know my aunt died in 1936 but I don’t know the right date.’ So you’re searching for the reel, looking for the right one… you can never be 100 percent sure you missed it. We could be more accurate and more timely and give people exactly what they want, rather than close to it,  

~Karen Tobin – Assistant Library Director Of The Goodnow Library

Once Advantage completes the digitization, this content will be keyword searchable and easily accessible to the public outside of the library.

The library will often get requests to search the archives from people investigating their own personal family history or trying to track down an old obituary.

Assistant Library director Karen Tobin said digitization will help with efficiency and accuracy in fulfilling those requests.

This online search platform is 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.

Green said the project comes down to expanding who can use the library’s collection.

“You can go down a rabbit hole with any of these old papers and get a sense of the town,” said Green. “That’s why we want to make it accessible.”

To read the full article featured in the The MetroWest Daily News and for more information on the project visit

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”.

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!