Student newspaper archive to be digitized

Nearly 50 years of Link issues to be scanned and made into searchable PDFs

Nearly 50 years of digital back issues of The Link will be available to the general public by 2014.

The project, funded by BCIT, the BCIT Student Association, and a grant from the BC History Digitization Program, will allow anyone with a computer to view issues as searchable PDFs, from the student newspaper’s inception in 1965 to present.

The digitization project is a continuation of an earlier project that digitized The Link from its launch in 1965 to 1978. Another component of the project is to add the materials and descriptions from each issue of the paper to the ContentPro Digital Repository, making the publications fully searchable.

You’ve come a long way, baby.

You’ve come a long way, baby.

According to Elizabeth Padilla, archivist at BCIT, the digitization project is being taken on as part of BCIT’s 50th anniversary in 2014.

“We could have done a lot of projects but I think it’s a really significant collection of material, a continuous voice of 50 years that’s significant not just for us but for the province,” said Padilla. “It’s a legacy.”

Padilla said the project will also bridge the gap between the academic, administrative, and student aspects of BCIT and helps showcase the strong relationship across those communities.

John Morrison, publications manager for the BCIT Student Association and publisher of The Link, says the archives can be used for various purposes including research and fact-checking, and that they’re priceless.

“The Link archives provide a history of BCIT and its students,” said Morrison. “It gives context to the development of BCIT and tells the story of how it came to be the entity it is today.”

Padilla said other institutions like the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) have archived newspapers as well but the perspective at BCIT is different from other institutions.

[pullquote]“The Link archives provide a history of BCIT and its students.” — John Morrison publications manager, BCIT Student Association[/pullquote]

“I think researchers in the future will find that there’s a lot of very specific material and that the perspective is quite different from other institutions,” explained Padilla.

The funding for the project comes from the Irving K. Barber Institute, which distributes funds annually. This is the first time BCIT Library and Archives has had a project accepted for funding, something Morrison says is of great benefit to The Link. 

“Access to digital archives will allow Link editors and reporters to get more context for stories,” said Morrison, who used the recent union strikes at the end of fall semester at BCIT as an example.

“It would have been helpful to get easy access to coverage of labour disputes in BCIT’s past in order to frame it in the present,” explained Morrison.

Morrison emphasized the timely nature of the digitization, citing degradation of newsprint as a serious concern.

“The older issues of The Link are fairly fragile, so digitizing them will ensure that they won’t be lost to decomposition or disaster,” said Morrison.

The BC History Digitization Program grant is matched by a contributed from the library’s fund and by a contribution from the BCIT Student Association, according to Padilla. The total matched amount received from the Irving K. Barber Institute is $4024.50.

Padilla, who will be spending the summer months inputting the data into the system to fully digitize it in time for BCIT’s 50th anniversary, said promotion will be a strong component when the materials go online in 2014.


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