Library to digitize archive of Wrangell publications

Past microfilms of the Stikine River Journal, the Fort Wrangell News and the Wrangell Sentinel will be digitally archived using a $8,250 grant that Wrangell Cooperative Association applied for and received from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

About 18,500 images are set to be digitized by APEX Covantage and will meet the same standards as the Alaska State Library's historical newspaper documentation program, according to Tribal Administrator Esther Ashton. Issues from the Stikine River Journal from 1898 through 1899, Fort Wrangell News from 1898 and the Wrangell Sentinel from 1902 to 1957 hopefully will be digitized. Library Director Margaret Villarma said the library may not be able to digitize every issue of the Wrangell Sentinel from 1902 through 1957, because there might not be enough funding. The only way to determine if the grant is large enough to cover the cost is to count every page of microfilm, but the library doesn't have the time to count each page.

Every year, Wrangell Cooperative Association asks the Irene Ingle Public Library, and other organizations around town, what projects they would like to have funded. Wrangell Cooperative Association then applies for grants to help fund the projects. In addition to the $8,250 grant to digitize microfilms, Wrangell Cooperative Association is also going to use grant money to purchase a subscription to the Alaska Digital Library.

"Basically as a tribe we're looking to collaborate with different entities in the community to make Wrangell a better place and help all of the citizens, including the tribal citizens," said Ashton.

By digitizing archives of the three publications, historical data will become easily accessible, said Villarma. Early newspapers also have recorded Tlingit names and other historical information regarding the Tlingit tribe. The only way to currently access the newspapers is to find each individual microfilm, which can inundate library staff.

"Digitizing these newspapers will allow the public to have greater access to this information," wrote Villarma in a statement to the Sentinel.


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