Archiving effort back underway
August 9, 2016
The Park Record newspaper dates back to the late 19th century, and its archive boasts the most comprehensive look at what life was like in Park City and Summit County. Yet to search through that archive has meant travelling to the library, asking for a specific roll of microfilm, and using a machine to read through the documents. It is a time-consuming and inexact process, particularly for those who do not know exactly what they are looking for and which issues to search through.
In August of 2014, an ad-hoc committee of the Park City Historical Society called the Newspaper Preservation Committee was formed with the goal of converting the entirety of The Park Record archive into a digital format. Sally Elliott was tasked with forming that group, and she said financial support has come from a variety of places.
"We… received last year a $10,000 grant from State Department of Culture and History, $3,000 from Rocky Mountain Power, $20,000 service contract from Park City Municipal, $5,000 from Summit County History, $5,000 from Summit County Library, $1,000 from Park City Community Foundation, a $1,000 personal donation from Greg Schirf, $15,000 [from] the [Recreation, Arts and Parks] Tax and have written several other grant requests about which we have yet to hear," she said.
They have received another $10,000 grant through the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts and are moving forward.
"The pace has been slow, but I’m thrilled that since we’re spending largely public money, we have created enormous value in return," she said.
The committee has numerous partners in the effort, including the Park City Library, the Summit County Library, the University of Utah's Marriott Library (which is hosting the digital archive) and The Park Record itself. Park City Library Director Adriane Juarez said the Summit County Library was instrumental in writing the grant application, and her library is listed as the managing organization.
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"So that means organizing some programs around the project, helping people to search the resources," she said. "We want the community to know about it so not only does it get done, but people are engaging with it."
Juarez said it was an obvious decision for the Park City Library to get involved in the archiving project.
"The collections in this format preserve long-term access to our historical information," she said. "And ease in access, too. That means being able to go online and search from home. It’s just something that, as a preservation organization, this is important work for us. We want to be a part of that effort."
Kinza Masood is the assistant head of digital operations at the Marriott Library. She said the library's platform for hosting digital newspaper archives, Utah Digital Newspapers, currently boasts 24 million articles, or 2.5 million newspaper pages.
"They are broken down into article-level content," she said. "So for example, each ad becomes one digital object, each birth announcement becomes one digital object."
Masood said the Marriott Library has also recently switched to a new platform for its digital archive that will make it even more user friendly. Compared to looking through microfilm, she said, the difference is night and day, and those who want to look for something in back issues of The Park Record will have a much easier time.
"Right now a patron would have to come into the library, request to have a film pulled, and then go to one of our microfiche stations and actually view the film there," she said. "They wouldn’t be able to take the film from the library. So it’s a little bit more resource-intensive. Once The Park Record is digitized it will be fully text searchable. They can use keywords to search for whatever they are looking for. And that is the whole point of getting it digitized and up on our server."
Masood said some of the earliest issues of The Park Record are already archived and available for those who want to look them over at DigitalNewspapers.org. She said she hopes to have most of The Park Record digitally archived within the next couple of years.
"We have a lot of interest in the history of Park City as it is, all of the mining records beginning in the 1880s," she said. "We get a lot of patrons asking about that."
Elliott said the archiving effort won't stop at The Park Record, either. When the committee finishes archiving from 1986 to the present day, she said they are going to shift their focus to one of Park City's other publications, The Newspaper.
"The Newspaper was started by Steve Dering, Jan Wilking, Greg Schirf and Hank Louis in the early 1970s and is a great source of Park City history for those years," she said. "The two papers merged in 1983. It will be a hoot to get that going."
Juarez said beyond just researchers and historians, she hopes everyday people will take advantage of the digital archive.
"The library belongs to everyone. These records belong to everyone. And it’s always interesting to just go back and read what’s been happening in our town over the years," she said. "Sometimes things like, what was on sale at the grocery store? What were the prices? It’s fun to see various aspects of our community that you can only get when you go through those historic writings and the work of journalists. It’s really exciting."
Juarez said nothing gives you the flavor of a town like reading its newspapers, not for the big news but the mundane stuff. Who was being written about, and why?
"Poke around," she said. "Go back and read articles. Choose the date you were born. That’s always fun, to see what was going on in Park City they day you were born."
To search through the Marriott Library's Park Record archive, visit DigitalNewspapers.org and use the 'Search/Browse a Newspaper' drop-down menu.