Breaking Down Barriers to Texas News Content
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For over a decade, the Texas Digital Newspaper Program (TDNP) has been digitizing, preserving, and providing access to newspapers from across Texas. As a part of The Portal to Texas History (PTTH), out of the UNT Libraries, TDNP now preserves and provides access to over 6.7 million pages of Texas news content. This represents over 1,400 titles, from 171 partners, containing content from 191 different Texas counties. This initiative has been a large-scale collaboration from its beginning, involving partnerships with funders, including the Tocker Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and numerous other private and public donors, to make these resources available. This presentation will offer an overview of the partnership models, workflows, and technologies TDNP uses, and it will exemplify one large-scale project, the Texas Borderlands Newspaper Project. Over the years, TDNP has expanded from primarily microfilm-based digitization to incorporate content from the original paper and now born-digital PDF print masters. In a cooperative agreement with the Texas Press Association and their clipping service corporation, NewzGroup, TDNP preserves born-digital print masters, resulting in digital preservation of over 500 Texas titles. The TDNP is working to secure rights to make all of this born-digital content available to users across Texas. The PTTH works to provide accessible interfaces to users via its online presence at https://texashistory.unt.edu. While this is the primary way users interact with TDNP collections, UNT has also worked to implement various application programming interfaces (API) including those from the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) to enable users to interact with newspaper collections in unique and previously unpredicted ways. IIIF opens doors for research into such newspaper collections as the Texas Borderlands Collection, containing newspapers that previously have not digitally available in one, cohesive collection. Texas history is defined by how its population settled a remote and rural land, struggling for safety against bandits in new territories, fighting for civil rights, developing technologies for new agricultural and ranching practices, and defining itself in relation to Mexico. All of these characteristics define the Texas Borderlands Newspaper Collection. Before this project, PTTH hosted a great deal of content from Brownsville and El Paso, but the story of urban Texas is very different from that of rural Texas. It is difficult to overestimate the role that newspapers play in any community’s identity. This digital collection spans 1859 to 1997, representing nearly 66,000 pages at the time of this writing, and these newspapers speak for the ancestors of current south and Texas border inhabitants. This presentation will snapshot the Borderlands project since its inception, expanding on how institutions collaborate to build access to their own newspaper content. It will describe workflows in place for microfilm, paper, and born-digital content acquisition. Additionally, presenters will explain the technologies used for processing, OCR, access, and preservation. Finally, the talk will demonstrate new interfaces offered by the PTTH to provide access to newspapers and other serial and time-based publications.