Newspapers often represent the most extensive documentation of a community’s activities. The small weekly rural publication or the long-running daily newspaper in larger urban centres bring forward a community’s history in a way that no other record can. The increased expectation for finding information online combined with the slow phasing out of older microfilm reader technology means digitized newspaper collections are some of the most widely used and accessed collections across the globe. ODW’s cutting edge aggregation services also mean that more people will discover your collections than with a standalone site.

Digitize newspapers from paper or microfilm?

ODW knows how tricky it can be to navigate digitization projects, especially when they are large-scale and require both connections and specialized expertise. To help shepherd these projects, ODW offers an end-to-end project management service, the All-in-One Digitization Service for community newspaper digitization projects. As part of the All-in-One service, we ensure that copyright permissions are granted for the publications, we help identify the location of the best copies for digitization, we navigate all vendor negotiations, and then manage the thousands of files that result from digitizing long runs of newspaper publications. Our clients receive all digital image and OCR files for local preservation as well as having the material ingested for online display and discovery.

ODW is known as a trusted service provider for these projects because we bring specialized expertise, solid vendor relationships, adherence to digitization best practices, and a sophisticated solution for sharing the digital collection for online discovery and search. Some sample projects include:

Daily British Whig, 1850-1926


Italian-Canadian newspapers, 1929-1946

Waterloo newspapers, 1868-2016, and index records

Include your legacy index records, clippings, and other newspaper fragments

Diligent indexing from years of work often won’t be found outside a bricks and mortar environment. Whether you are digitizing newspaper pages or just your index collection, we can migrate legacy indexes from paper, electronic documents, and other databases or systems. Our work has included moving BMDs and article indexes from MSWord and Excel, digitized index cards, and other systems like Access, inMagic, ContentDM, DBTextworks, and more. We’ll work closely with you to make sure all your data is captured for search and display in a user friendly site.

Some sample migrations include:

BMD migration from Word documents with links to digitized newspapers

St. Catharines Public Library VITA site
Migration of BMD index from InMagic database

Cook memorial Public library VITA Site
Index migration from Word documents with links to digitized newspapers

Large-scale, Multilingual Optical Character Recognition

ODW has pioneered several areas of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) development and deployment for newspaper digitization. OCR can be a tremendous bottleneck in newspaper digitization because of the text-heavy nature of newspapers. Newspaper pages often contain eight times the amount of text found on a book page, with more complex layouts and significant quality control challenges.

Building on open source technologies, ODW has mapped out an infrastructure to achieve high volume throughput and built expertise in adding new language support to OCR. In 2013, ODW successfully processed a collection of newspapers publications in 14 languages including Inuktitut, a syllabic script of one of Canada’s First Peoples. Contact us for more information.

Getting started

Let us manage and process your newspaper digitization project. Pricing is on a per project basis and to get started we need to know more about your project ideas and scope. Download this checklist before completing the questionnaire online here. Or talk to us about your project ideas.

The small print

ODW is dedicated to helping share your collections online. We ensure that all original files are returned to you along with the value added files created during the process. We maintain no ownership of your digital content nor is there a required contract for your display services beyond the Terms of Service associated with VITA Toolkit.