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Library, newspaper working to preserve records

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New campaign seeks to create digital archive of more than 50 years of newspapers

By Staff Reports

A campaign to preserve decades of old area newspapers by converting them microfilm to digital format has been started by the Galax-Carroll Regional Library Foundation.
The campaign, called “Save the History,” is geared towards preserving rolls of old newspapers on microfilm from the 1930s until 1982. The rolls contain thousands of old newspapers full of local history.
There are 44 reels at the Galax library, which contain approximately 3,300 issues of the Gazette, according to John Nunn of Galax, who is heading the campaign.

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“These reels are all that is left of that history, and can only be found in the area’s local libraries,” he said.
Normally, people read these films by feeding them through a special microfilm reader, but Nunn says that the equipment recently broke, leaving no way for people to access the information. A new reader would cost $12,000.
After doing some research, the library decided to convert the film reels to digital format, which would not only preserve history of the area, but would also make the information accessible online from anywhere in the world.
The project is a little more pricey at $16,000, but the library decided to borrow the money and proceed with conversions at both the Galax and Hillsville libraries to capture information on the reels before it could get damaged or lost.
The campaign in Galax seeks to raise money to help the libraries pay the lenders back as soon as possible.
The archive would include old issues of The Gazette and The Carroll News.
“You will be able to search for family, school days, events and anything else with a ‘key word’ search of all of the issues at one time,” Nunn said.
Nunn approached Gazette Publisher Chuck Burress to request help with obtaining permission to convert the Gazette editions.
“Several years ago, The Gazette was sold to Landmark Communications. They entered into a contract with Newsbank, giving them control of all past issues [online],” Nunn said.
Burress helped get approval for the project from Newsbank, and kicked off the campaign by handing the library the first donation.
Along with the check from The Gazette and owner Landmark Media Enterprises, the campaign has received pledges from more than 20 individuals and Tech109, which together will secure somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000.
The campaign seeks donations of $100 or more from 160 people. Donors will be listed on a wall of honor to commemorate their contribution to preserving local history.

Donors can send a check marked “Conversion Fund” to Library Director Melanie Hemingway of the Galax-Carroll Regional Library, 610 W. Stuart Drive, Galax, Va. 24333. For more information, see www.savethereels.com.