Category: In the News
The Demise of Google's Newspaper Digitization Project
Late last year, one of our staff members stumbled across Google's newspaper archives and discovered that our local newspaper, Leader Post, was one of the digitized papers. Needless to say, the discovery set off a flurry of excited emails and discussion regarding whether or not the public library should continue to carry the microfilm reels of the paper and whether or not to revive our formerly public-accessible online newspaper index (note: this index is still online but only accessible to staff). While some praised Google for digitizing our newspaper and freeing us from the burdensome "microfilm" reels, many of us were stuck trying to figure out how to utilize this resource for our patrons.
For starters, this was a newspaper archives that contained no information about what city some of these papers were published. For example, Regina's newspaper is actually listed four times in the newspaper archives with the following dates:
* Regina Leader – October 18, 1887 to September 30, 1890
* The Leader – October 7, 1890 to November 26, 1908
* Regina Standard – October 4, 1905 to September 5, 1906
* Leader Post – May 1, 1930 to January 31, 1987
As I like to point out to staff and to clients alike, one must be careful in making assumptions because the Leader-News which is located between The Leader and The Leader Post, is actually a newspaper published in Kentucky rather than in Regina, Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, Google does not provide you with any descriptors to help you find all the variant titles of a single newspaper.
Compounding the problem was the incomplete dates for the digital images. For example, there are no digital images for the years 1909 to 1929, a huge gap that would be a terrific goldmine for any historian, teacher, student and genealogist. Too bad those years were not included and staff are at loss to explain why this would be the case. Even when the years are included as part of the digitized package, there were missing issues. A good example is February 1986 of the Leader Post. Interestingly enough, only the first two weeks of February was digitized but not the remaining two weeks, which interestingly enough, would have contained the notice of Tommy Douglas' death (February 24, 1986).
Aside from the other troublesome issues of not being able to search effectively for the articles in question (e.g. not all of the content such as death notices has been indexed) and the unwillingness of Google to let patrons download or to print off the articles, the website was still better than nothing especially if you were willing to scan each individual image for the information. However, earlier this week, word came down that Google is now abandoning this project. There will be no updated content or plans to improve the current search capabilities. In other words, we are stuck with this imperfect tool which may help some, but will largely frustrate others.
In the meantime, the Prairie History Room (PHR) will continue to carry the Leader Post in its entirety on microfilm, from 1883 to the present. The library also provides digital access to this newspaper and many others through our free online databases such as Canadian Newsstands and PressDisplay. For more information about how to access these resources, please contact us at 777-6011 or email us at email@example.com.
May P. Chan, Prairie History Librarian
Former Premier Allan Blakeney Dies
Former Saskatchewan premier, Allan Blakeney, passed away today at the age of 85.
Born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Blakeney was educated at both Dalhousie University and Oxford University of Oxford. In 1960, he entered politics and served as a cabinet minister in Tommy Douglas' government by helping to introduce medicare. From 1971 to 1982, Blakeney served as premier of Saskatchewan. After his defeat in 1982 to Grant Devine, Blakeney remained as the leader of the New Democratic Party and officially retired from politics in 1988. In 1990, he served as a law professor at the University of Saskatchewan.
In 2008, he published his memoirs An Honourable Calling: Political Memoirs offering autobiographical information as well as personal insight into the issues that he encountered during his 38 years in government.
For a brief overview of his contributions to both provincial and national politics, click on this link to take you to the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. For additional information about Blakeney, click on this link to the library's holdings.
In Memoriam: Courtney Milne (1943 - 2010)
Renowned Saskatchewan nature photographer Courtney Milne who was born in Saskatoon, passed away on Sunday. Milne was a prolific photographer and wrote more than a dozen books exploring sacred sites and landscapes around the globe. His last book, which was titled Saskatchewan: The Luminous Landscape, was published in 2005 for the province's centennial celebration.
To read more about the life and times of this celebrated artist, check out his Encyclopedia Saskatchewan's entry.
To examine Milne's works that are available in the library's collection, click on the following link.
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