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SWT, Library partner to preserve history

Imagine being able to find an article that ran in The Southwest Times in the 1940s without having to leave the comfort of your home.
Now, imagine being able to find it without having knowledge of the specific date it was published.
A campaign being kicked off today will not only make that possible, but will also preserve a portion of Pulaski County history that is in danger of being lost through degrading paper and aging microfilm.
“The Southwest Times Digitization Project” is a joint venture of Pulaski County Library and The Southwest Times. It was the vision of library Technology Coordinator Carol Smith, who was concerned about preserving this historical resource, but realized the cost could be too much for one organization to take on.
Kay Kline, general manager of The Southwest Times, said, “preserving Pulaski County history as reflected in the pages of The Southwest Times in a way that captures the essence of the time is a vision we can all embrace. Plus, this will be accessible from your laptop and is word searchable.”
The project will transform all issues of The Southwest Times and its predecessor newspaper into a digitally readable and searchable database.
“I’m so excited we are going to make this happen,” said Library Director Sally Warburton.
Presently, the only way to find something that ran in past issues of The Southwest Times is to scroll through rolls of microfilm at the library or thumb through bound copies of old issues in the newspaper’s archives. The Southwest Times website (www.southwesttimes.com) archives one year’s worth of articles at a time. However, all stories are not posted online and pictures, advertisements and other items in the printed issue are excluded.
Once the papers are digitized, each issue will be visible in full layout, but the reader will be able to use a keyword to search the full database of newspapers for the item they are seeking. This will not only benefit genealogists and others doing research, but also will give the reader an opportunity to see the newspaper on the day they were born or just browse through historical copies to find out how much a loaf of bread cost in 1920.
But having 104 years worth of newspapers digitized is a costly venture, so the library and newspaper are looking to the community for help.
As of today, the “digitization committee” is launching a campaign to raise the $25,000 it will cost to convert the newspaper microfilms into a digital database. Donations will be handled under the auspices of Friends of the Pulaski County Library (FOPCL) by Financial Manager Alice Buford. Checks (which are preferred) can be made payable to FOPCL and mailed to Friends of the Pulaski County Library Inc., Attn: SWTP, 60 West Third St., Pulaski, VA 24301. (See Page A-8 for additional information.)
The committee hopes to recruit alumni from area schools to contribute and help with the fundraising effort since the newspaper serves as a historical record of many school activities. To that end, Jim Graham has volunteered to oversee the fundraising effort. Graham was instrumental in organizing the highly successful 2007 Dublin High School All-Class Reunion.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the alumni effort may contact Graham through e-mail at jlgraham@erols.com or call (703) 801-5112.
Other volunteer assistance will be welcomed at the next meeting, which will be announced in this paper.
It is the hope this project will receive support from local citizens, civic organizations, churches and charitable foundations.
For more information, call Carol Smith or Sally Warburton at 980-7770 or e-mail chsmith@pclibs.org or swarburton@pclibs.org.

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