14 July 2013
Archive Makes for Easy Search
By Bob Kuntz
Many of us remember the school assignment where we had to find out what other events happened on our birthday. You had to go to the Library and ask for the microfilm roll that contained the newspaper for that date. Once you had the roll of film in hand, you approached an ancient-looking machine and threaded the film through the glass plates so you could view the image. After a minute or so of scanning all of the other newspapers on the reel, you reached your destination and copied the headlines of the exciting events of the day.
Thanks to the Carroll County Public Library, the above search now takes seconds and you can access the newspapers from the comfort of your own home. The Library recently received a grant from the Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Library Development and Services to digitize all of the Carroll County Times microfilm from 1933 to 2009, and provide online access to the full-text of those newspapers.
To create the Carroll County Times Archive, the microfilm collections of CCPL and The Pratt Library were collated and delivered to The Crowley Company in Frederick. Crowley digitized the microfilm and saved the images in searchable files. Once the files were returned to CCPL, the Information Technology Services staff verified and compressed each of the 13,000+ files so it would be usable on the web. Some of the files were very large, so unnecessary inserts (coupons, TV listings, and advertisements) were deleted.
The Library then set up online access to the collection by creating a web site and “search engine.” Google, for example, is a popular search engine. The Library has made the search interface as easy to use as possible while providing advanced search capabilities to help narrow the thousands of results you may receive for common search terms. Most search results are returned in a few seconds and provide a snippet of the text found in each newspaper. Click on the newspaper date and the newspaper will open using the Adobe Reader software found on most computers. You may then view, print, or copy and paste text into a document.
For those of you who know that The Times began in 1911, you might ask why the Archive only goes back to 1933. Those were the microfilm rolls most easily accessible by the Library and did not require special processing. The Library plans to add the earlier years to the Archive when possible, and is currently receiving new, full-color,digital copies from the Carroll County Times. You may notice that there are missing issues in the Archive; the Library will accept donations to help fill in the blanks.
To access the site, visit http://cctimes.carr.org. On the home page there are pictures highlighting stories from past years (click on the pictures to see the related article) as well as links to newspapers that were published on the same day in past years. We hope students, genealogists, and the casual user will find this Archive useful and enjoyable. Check to see what events occurred on your birth date.
Guest columnist Bob Kuntz is the Information Technology Services Manager at the Carroll County Public Library.
Image credit: Carroll County Times Archive
Image caption: This image, typical of what can be found on the Carroll County Times Archive, appeared in the October 4, 1935, issue when The Times was a weekly paper.