12 million pages of old newspapers to be digitized in Cedar Rapids

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The State Historical Society of Iowa has a plan to make 12 million pages of newspapers last forever.

Advantage Companies in Cedar Rapids has signed on to microfilm and digitize the historical collection and make it accessible to everyone over the next five years.

The project comes at no cost to the state and ownership of the newspapers will remain with the State Historical Society. Some of the newspapers date back to 1837. While most of the newspapers are in great condition, some of them are starting to fade and become harder to read. The collection includes more than 300 titles. A librarian at the State Historical Society in Iowa City says some of those titles are from small town publications that ended many years ago.

"Without being preserved, the records of the histories of a lot of these small towns would be lost," said Allison Woods of the State Historical Society, "It will really increase use and just make it easier for people to get to it."

Technicians will photograph each of the papers onto microfilm which is standard for newspaper preservation. Then they will be digitally scanned for public access. Advantage Companies will take similar steps in the future with newspapers at the State Historical Society's Centennial Building in Iowa City.