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Storrs Library seeks to preserve history digitally

By Chris Maza
chrism@thereminder.com

LONGMEADOW – Storrs Library is in the early stages of preparing historical documents, including a large collection of Longmeadow News archives, to be preserved digitally.

Director Jean Maziarz explained the library came into possession bound volumes of past issues of the Longmeadow News – from the first edition in 1969 through 2010 – during the summer when the Enfield Public Library discovered them among a donation of Enfield Press archives it had received.

The second Longmeadow News ever printed, dated Aug. 17, 1969.
(Photo by Chris Maza)

The Longmeadow News and Enfield Press are both Reminder Publishing LLC publications and were previously owned by the now-defunct Westfield News Group. This week, Longmeadow News provided additional archives through 2018.

Now Maziarz and Adult and Technology Services Director Andrea Puglisi have begun researching options for digitizing the newspapers along with other local historical materials to preserve them and make them readily available to the community.

“It’s a project that fits in the larger preservation plan that we’re looking to undertake for our library,” Puglisi said.

Maziarz added, “We own a lot of historical materials that have come to us through residents, historical societies and another of other means. It’s important to digitize these items because they are in paper and they will be lost unless they are otherwise taken care of. We have so many materials that fall under that sort of category, which is why we are looking at this.”

One avenue the library is pursuing at the moment is called Digital Commonwealth, a resource through Boston Public Library where local libraries, historical societies and local cultural entities can submit historical materials of local significance.

Longmeadow News, July 9, 1986.
(Photo by Chris Maza)

“Within the past three or our weeks, they have opened opportunities to start digitizing local or smaller newspapers, so Jean and I are exploring applying to that. It’s very exciting. If we are accepted into it, the Longmeadow News’ photos and stories would be part of a larger collection,” Puglisi said. “Longmeadow has a long, proud history within Massachusetts and we think it’s important that we’re a part of that conversation and that people can find out just how special we really are.”

The Boston Public Library would heavily assist Storrs Library in the digitizing process. Storrs staff would have to supply metadata and other elements in order for people to easily find the information and Digital Commonwealth would also support the long-term upkeep of the digitized materials.

Participation in Digital Commonwealth is not guaranteed; entities must apply for inclusion. Being early in the process, Puglisi said they are “keeping the door open” to utilizing a different service as well. Storrs Library is also planning to apply for a Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) grant through the Massachusetts Libraries Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) for a preservation assessment.

“Through that process, we may be able to uncover other opportunities to digitize the Longmeadow News,” Puglisi said.

Through the LSTA preservation assessment, the MBLC would come into the library, assess all of the materials, determine if they are a good fit for digitization and help develop a plan to begin preserving the collection. Storrs Library already has some resources that are available electronically. Longmeadow High School yearbooks were digitized through an LSTA grant on archive.org. Also, a collection of diaries written by First Church of Longmeadow’s first minister, Stephen Williams, has also been digitized through a Community Preservation Act grant. While exploring their options for creating digital archives, hard copies of the Longmeadow News can be available to the public to peruse.

“We will put some abbreviated entries into our catalog so people will at least know we have them,” Maziarz said.