Library formally seeks grant for digitization project

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Proposal includes Wheaton, Cassville, Marionville, Mt. Vernon newspapers

Following two months of discussion, the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library has send a letter committing to a digitalization process of historic bi-county newspapers that will aid in future research.

Director Gina Milburn reported that a letter of intent has been sent to Matt Butler, digital collections coordinator for the Missouri State Library, asking permission to apply for a Library Services and Technology Act grant to begin digitizing The Wheaton Journal newspaper. Unlike microfilm, the digital copies will be readable from any computer and will be searchable by words.

The initiative was sparked by private citizen Mark Ingram, of Purdy, who volunteered to undertake the project and handle the labor. Ingram discovered the availability of funding and researched the matter with Patsy Luebbert, grant manager of the Missouri Digital Newspaper Project with the Missouri State Library, who agreed to write the bulk of the grant. The local library needed to sign on as project sponsor.

Milburn said the project needed to show bi-county reach for the library, which serves Barry and Lawrence counties. The letter of intent addressed that issue by proposing digitizing not only the Wheaton Journal (1919-1994), but also the Cassville Republican (1890-1946, ran through 1984), the Marionville Free Press (1894-1922, ran through 1984) and the Lawrence Chieftain (1876-1925, ran through 1970) from Mt. Vernon. The proposal covers 77,000 newspaper pages.

The years identified fell in the public domain, without copyright restrictions. Letters secured by Ingram granted permission for reproduction of the Wheaton Journal. Later years for the other papers may be added if copyright clearance is granted.

The proposal cited points of interest justifying the value of the project.

"Found in these newspapers are stories on Roaring River State Park, historic Route 66, farm to market roads that were being constructed in the early 1900s. railroad strikes, mining construction of Table Rock Lake, CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] camps and much more," the letter stated.

The letter was sent on Dec. 14. The final application will be due in February, going to a panel for review. Decisions on the grant will be made by April. Funds would be available into 2018. When completed, all the digital images would be freely available from the Missouri State Historical Society's server, with a link from the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library's website.

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