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$30,000 grant will help to digitize county newspapers

Posted: Sun, Aug 5, 2018 12:29 PM

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has awarded a $30,016 grant to Luther College's Preus Library and the Winneshiek County Historical Society to pay for the costs of digitizing past issues of county newspapers.

The Winneshiek County Historical Society will augment the grant award with a $10,000 cash contribution to fully fund the digitization efforts. Advantage Preservation of Cedar Rapids is scanning and indexing the microfilm of the county newspapers, including the Calmar Courier, the Decorah Public Opinion, Decorah Journal and Decorah Republican.

The project will result in a keyword-searchable website that's open to the public. That part of the process is estimated to take four to six weeks. When the website is completed, there will be approximately 275,000 pages catalogued.  Luther College Preus Library Director Ryan Gjerde then will create documentation and training materials for local users and will lead training and outreach efforts.

"We are excited that this project will unlock a significant source of local history for casual and serious researchers and genealogists, and perhaps even students in local schools," said Gjerde. "Once the collection site is up and running, we look forward to reaching out to local groups who might be interested in training on how to use the collection."

"The Winneshiek County Historical Society is excited about our collaboration with Luther College in getting 150 years-worth of microfilm of the Decorah Newspapers and the Calmar Courier digitized and made available to the public," said Winneshiek County Historical Society Decorah township director Stacey Gossling.