Preserving Vanderburgh County's History Page By Page

A project that aims to preserve and digitize Vanderburgh County's written history is in it's final stage.

A project that aims to preserve and digitize Vanderburgh County's written history is in it's final stage.

In the summer of 2012, the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library teamed up with a company called NewsBank to preserve 120 years worth of newspapers.

While the work is being done off-site, crews are taking the microfilm of all three newspapers that were once in Evansville, the Evansville Press, Evansville Journal and Evansville Courier.

Right now, about 90% of some 2.5 million pages have been digitized and put into an online search engine, according to Larry Oathout, the Chief Operating Office for the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library.

Even though the project isn't finished, it has already proven quite popular.

"Last year, we had 30,000 searches done by people actually going in and looking at a particular article," Oathout said. "So far, this year, we've had 126,000. It has just exploded after it has gotten out there."

The search engine allows library cardholders to look for key words, names and even pictures. Library cardholders can access the search engine from anywhere. For those that don't have a card, they can use the computers at Central Library. 

Mostly funded through donations, the total price tag of the project is more than $900,000, Oathout said.

"For us, it's not only a great way to give back to the county's history but also for our reference staff, it's cut down their time in half, if not more," Oathout said.

The entire project should be done later this year.

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