The Petersburg Public Library in partnership with the Petersburg Pilot is being recognized for digitizing and archiving the weekly newspaper going back 100 years. They are receiving a Certificate of Excellence from the Alaska State Historical Records Advisory Board.
The Petersburg Public Library has hundreds of old papers from decades ago. Some are still at the old library in storage and some are in the new library's small local history room. And for a decade the library’s director, Tara Alcock, wanted to archive those papers into some kind of searchable database. The problem was that the technology just wasn’t there.
The publisher of the Petersburg Pilot, Ron Loesch, gave the library permission to digitize and share the newspaper’s weekly issues since 1974. Loesch said the paper is a historical record of what happened in the community and preserving it is important. Also, he said, the new database makes things more efficient for both the public and the Pilot.
“We get a lot of requests for archival information and we do not have the staff to search that so being able to send people to the library archives to retrieve various articles saves us a tremendous amount of time," Loesch said. "On a few occasions, particularly when attorneys wanted particular information we would charge $20 an hour to search the archives and now the archives are available through the library for free.”
As for the future of the hard copies of the old papers the library is working on an off-site solution to storing them because, as Alcock said, they are rarely used anymore.
A link to the archived papers can be found on the library's website under "local history".