Chilliwack Museum and Archives officials say they are more than halfway through the first part of the Progress digitization project and it’s going well.
Commonwealth Imaging is the specialized Alberta company tasked with scanning back issues of the Progress, dating from 1891 to 1947.
“The quality is just outstanding,” said Museum archivist Shannon Bettles. “Because they are using the microfilm negatives, it means the quality of the searchable files will be the very best.”
The goal of the Chilliwack Progress Digitization Project is the transformation more than 90 years of Progress newspaper files into digital format.
The Progress has the honour of being the oldest newspaper published continuously under the same name in Canada. So for the history-oriented museum, the Progress back issues constitute the oldest and most important written record collection focused on Chilliwack.
The plan is to get the whole shebang online and searchable by the public from anywhere in the world.
The next batch of files, from 1948 up to 1981 is currently being digitized.
The way it works is that the Progress microfilm negatives are turned into high-resolution TIFF files, and then reformatted into PDFs in preparation for being uploaded to the web in the Chilliwack Progress Digitization Project.
A digital copy of the files will be housed at the archives on Corbould Street, and officials are hoping to offer a dedicated computer station for the public to search from, in relatively short order.
Global access to the Progress files will be greatly improved, once everything is scanned and converted to PDF format, and the museum will also be preserving the hard-copy newspapers and microfilm.
The Irving Barber Learning Centre at UBC provided a grant of $15,000 for the Chilliwack Progress Digitization Project, along with $5000 green-lighted by the Chilliwack Foundation and another $5,000 from the City of Chilliwack, approved under Community Development Initiatives funding.
Find more details about the process at http://www.commonwealthimaging.com/