Bringing history into the digital age. That's the objective of a grant program for which Peter White Public Library in Marquette is a finalist in the state of Michigan.
Online voting for the grant program has begun and continues through April 15. The winning request will have up to 12,500 pages of a newspaper converted from microfilm to digital format through an optical character recognition process.
PWPL's proposal is to digitize 20 years of The Mining Journal, from 1868-1888. The proposal was written by Bruce MacDonald, the library's assistant director.
"Even if we were not to win, the contest will bring some awareness about digitization, and how it would be of value to our region," MacDonald said. "This can bring history into the future - raw, detailed, unembellished - indexed and searchable."
The grant is through a national program. MacDonald explained that in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities and Library of Congress, each state in the U.S. has one library, usually a university library, which is involved with newspaper digitization efforts in that state. the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University has this distinction in Michigan.
Four other communities are in the running in Michigan for the grant. They are Lansing, Grand Rapids, Cheboygan and Muskegon.
MacDonald said while most of those areas have a larger population than Marquette, he has faith people in the Marquette area will get behind this kind of an effort and will vote for PWPL in the contest.
The easiest way to cast a ballot is to visit www.pwpl.info, then click on the Vote for PWPL! link. Individuals can vote as often as they like.
If the grant is secured, 20 years of local information will become more easily available to the world.
We wholeheartedly support the effort being put forth by Peter White Public Library, not just because its our own newspaper that's involved in this potential digitizing, but because we believe preserving history is a wonderful enterprise in any way it can be achieved.
We thank Bruce MacDonald for spearheading this effort. Let's show Michigan that the Marquette community supports its own by voting often now through April 15.