After 6 years of working with the National Digital Newspaper Program our 3rd and final grant is coming to an end. It has been a wonderful project to be a part of and I want to share some of what we have been able to accomplish through our participation in this worthwhile endeavor. I also want to thank the many wonderful individuals who made the project a success. You would be forgiven for thinking this project was solely about how many newspaper titles we digitized and how many pages were made available in Chronicling America. However, this project was also about the many fantastic people with whom we have worked as well as those with whom we have collaborated and met through outreach over the years. USC Libraries’ and South Carolina’s participation with this project was only possible through generous funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities who awarded USC Libraries almost $1M over the course of 3 grants!
Thanks to USC Libraries for supporting us in all of our efforts to do the best work we could do and in allowing us to develop an outreach program to get the word out across the state. Thanks Kate Boyd and Craig Keeney for serving as co-PI’s throughout and for your enthusiastic support of the project, for your guidance, and for so willingly travelling the state with us on so many occasions. Also, Craig, you put in many, many hours to update catalog records and to research and compose the 46 newspaper title essays included in the US Newspaper Directory covering all 110 newspapers we digitized in the NDNP-a huge feat! And for cleaning up all of the South Carolina newspaper title CONSER records while you were at it. Thank you for taking on such a tremendous amount of work! Thanks Santi Thompson for your excellent leadership, attention to detail, and good humor on the project as project manager from 2009-2012 and Ashley Knox for serving as an enthusiastic and fun colleague as metadata specialist from 2009-2010. We were happy for Santi when he left the project in 2012 to go to the University of Houston (he is now the Head of Digital Repository Services) and for Ashley when she transitioned to a position at USC Libraries as the Digital Projects Librarian.
Thank you Laura Blair for serving as metadata and outreach specialist from 2012-2015, and for your dedication, for making work so much fun each day, and for always giving 100% to everything you did for this project. As the end of the project drew near, the SCDNP team and I were so excited when all of Laura’s hard work paid off and she left us to become the Manuscripts Archivist at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Thank you advisory board members for sharing your extensive expertise in history, libraries, and newspapers to guide the project and for your enthusiasm and interest over the entire six years. We couldn’t have done it without you. It has been a pleasure to work with each and everyone of you and I will treasure all the great memories of our working together. We were also very lucky to get to work with so many wonderful folks at Library of Congress. The entire NDNP Digital Conversion team Deb, Tonijala, Robin, Nathan, Henry, and Chris, as well as catalogers Vanessa and Ralph, who are all very talented and outstanding people who were ever helpful and always provided the most excellent guidance to us on the project. It has been great fun to see you each year at our annual meetings in D.C. Tonijala, I want to thank you specifically for helping me so very much in every way. You are the best! Thank you all for teaching me and the rest of the team so much and for being a joy to work with while we worked together to add South Carolina newspapers to Chronicling America. Also, thank you Helen and Leah our NEH Senior Program Officers for helping us in so many ways during the NDNP grant program! It has been a real treat to meet and make the acquaintances of other state awardee representatives all across the U.S. as participants of NDNP-to see how you executed your projects and to learn about your creative ideas for outreach and the value added resources you created for Chronicling America users. Best of luck to all of you in the future with your newspaper digitization endeavors and beyond.
Also, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Dr. Allen Stokes who spearheaded the South Caroliniana Library’s participation in the NEH funded U.S. Newspaper Program (USNP) which funded states to microfilm their vast newspaper collections in the 1980s to the 2000s. USC Libraries and SCL microfilmed about one million pages of historical S.C. newspapers during that time and all of this prodigious work done by Dr. Stokes and SCL colleagues made our participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) possible. Thanks Allen!
Since 2009, our SC Digital Newspaper Program (SCDNP) has been able to digitize 110 historical S.C. newspapers and more than 300,000 pages of newspapers. (USC Libraries has the potential for continuing on and digitizing the remaining 700,000 pages that were microfilmed by the USNP. And I hope that can and will happen as we graduate out of the NDNP program and look for new sources of funding and creative ways to keep the momentum going.) We digitized newspapers from 32 communities across South Carolina including Abbeville, Anderson, Bamberg, Batesburg, Beaufort, Bennettsville, Camden, Charleston, Cheraw, Columbia, Dillon, Easley, Edgefield, Fort Mill, Georgetown, Greenville, Kingstree, Lancaster, Laurens, Lexington, manning, Newberry, Orangeburg, Pageland, Pickens, Rock Hill, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union, Walhalla, Winnsboro, and York. We were also able to digitize 10 African American newspapers published in South Carolina between 1865 and 1922 for which we have received a great deal of interest from researchers. We worked closely with our vendor, Apex CoVantage throughout, who performed the digital conversion of our newspapers, and we couldn’t have accomplished anything without you guys. Thank you Joel Mills and Ravi Thota for providing so much of your digital conversion expertise and for being such congenial partners with us on this project. I will miss our weekly meetings and the opportunity to collaborate with you both. Thank you for all the hard work you put into our project. We truly couldn’t have accomplished anything without all of your expertise and technical skills!
In 2012, we started a successful outreach program and spoke to 81 groups from more than 20 communities in South Carolina and met so many wonderfully, enthusiastic people who love history and Chronicling America! We appreciate your coming and hearing us speak and I hope that you learned some useful research skills to help you perform research at peak efficiency in Chronicling America! We kept a tally and think we spoke directly to 1,800 South Carolinians in our presentations. Thank you to everyone who invited us to come speak to your genealogical chapter, or public library, K-12 educators, or to your students! All of our outreach efforts pointed folks to S.C. newspapers in Chronicling America and we think at least part of our efforts helped get researchers to use the resources and now more than 2.6 million people have visited SC content in Chronicling America. We have also had, to date, more than 85,000 visitors to our SCDNP resources since we began collecting statistics (website, blog, and subject guide)! If you are interested in S.C. history, you can read more than 40 articles we posted on our blog about interesting bits of history we came across as we digitized. Or see what we found in the newspapers we thought worth highlighting and sharing with you in our SC Newspapers LibGuide.
I feel very thankful and fortunate to have been a part of this project at USC Libraries these past six years. It is truly one of the most interesting jobs I have ever gotten to do. As I begin an exciting new position at Francis Marion University, and look forward to new challenges and a different aspect of working in an academic library, I will fondly remember all of the fun work we accomplished together and all of the great friendships I have made along the way. Thank you all.