The George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida, has added 200,000 digitized pages of historic Florida newspapers to the freely available in the Florida Digital Newspaper Library (FDNL). The project, “Making Florida Newspaper Collections Accessible,” was completed with $53,040 in Library Services and Technology Act funding from the State Library and Archives of Florida as part of the 2020-21 funding cycle. Utilizing newspapers microfilmed by the University of Florida, the project team migrated the newspapers to a more accessible and preservable digital format.
Florida newspapers are a state treasure, the historian and genealogist’s best friend, and the community’s collective memory. In the fast-paced world of today’s news, access to yesterday’s newspapers provides a critical, primary source, for students of all ages. The Libraries began digitizing historic printed newspapers and harvesting digitally published Florida newspapers in 2005, replacing microform as the preferred means of preserving the journalistic history of the state. At the same time, the Libraries committed to long-term digital preservation of all materials in the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). With the addition of this project, the newspaper collection has reached three million pages of content, including historic and current news content.
“We are so pleased to be able to offer Floridian’s greater access to the history of the families, farms and land of our state with the addition of these newspapers,” said Chelsea Dinsmore, chair of Digital Support Services with the Libraries and Principal Investigator on the grant award.
The shrinking number of working microfilm readers around the state, especially in public libraries, contributes to reduced access to primary historical resources. Even when microfilm readers are functional, the content on the reels of film is static and not easily searchable. Digitizing these important community documents allows for universal access to the content. Additionally, this project worked to target titles in communities with limited content already in FDNL to expand regional access and meet the growing needs of the citizens of Florida.
As part of the grant, the project team worked with the state’s five Multitype Library Consortia to provide training for librarians and to introduce the latest content along with the FDNL interface. These trainings, as well as a Spanish-language training, are available in UFDC for public use and can be viewed here Historic (English), and here https://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00011507 (Spanish).
For more information about our newspaper collections, please visit the Florida Digital Newspaper Library at https://ufdc.ufl.edu/fdnl. To browse our general digital collections, please visit UFDC at https://ufdc.ufl.edu/.