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Art Rhyno interviewed for AModern 2: Network Archaeology


Sandra Gabriele wrote about moving newspapers into the digital age for AModern 2, and interviewed ODW board member Art Rhyno about his work on microfilm digitization for OurOntario:

Public initiatives to put historical newspapers online range from nationalistic projects, like those launched by the Library of Congress, the British Library, or Bibliothèque nationale de France,  to the smaller, provincial initiatives like those for the Bibliothèque et Archives nationale du Québec, Our Ontario (now known as Our Digital World), or Manitobia, hosted by the Manitoba Library Consortium. These projects are important for their commitment to public access, yet they vary greatly in their stability of funding and allocation of resources and staff over the long term. Art Rhyno, a librarian at the University of Windsor, former board member of the Ontario Library Association and former owner of a family-owned newspaper enterprise, became involved in digitization for both the Our Ontario initiative and as a way of digitizing his family’s vast collection of microfilmed issues of the Essex Free Press.  The project to digitize as many community newspapers as possible began through collaboration with the Internet Archive on several pilot projects and ended with Rhyno using idle computers at night in the University of Windsor’s library to process the digital scans and run the OCR. Rhyno, interested in keeping costs to an absolute minimum, used an American company to digitize microfilm records for as little as 2.5 cents per page (roughly about $20 a reel) and was able to add only the most basic metadata to the records. The Our Ontario project became an amalgam of some half-completed projects from community libraries that had run out of funding, along with clippings, and some complete runs of papers. In sum, the holdings of the eventual database were not as complete as other similar projects.  Our Ontario provides an ideal example of how a network archeology approach is ideal for analyzing the current online product: without a careful tracing of each libraries’ policy and funding constraints, a robust understanding of the digital object that appears today is simply impossible.


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