Digitizing Old Newspapers

Dear Donia,
Is there a low-cost way to digitize old newspapers?


Q. Dear Donia,

I have some old newspapers (from 1875) that I want to preserve. Is there a low-cost way to digitize the content or should I plan on preserving the paper artifact? Thank you, Margot

A. Dear Margot,

When it comes to newspapers, the best way to preserve them is to digitize them. Newsprint is a very unstable and will deteriorate even with our best efforts to stop it. There are a couple of ways you can digitize the content of your old newspapers. One is with a simple home scanner. If your newspaper is full size, you will have to scan it in sections. When scanning, be sure to brush the glass plated off each time as the newspaper has a tendency to crumble and flakes will mar the scan.

The other way is with a digital camera. If you have a tripod, set up your camera facing down. Make sure the camera is level or you will not get a good, clear scan. You can then take images of the newspaper in sections if it doesn't fit completely into the viewfinder. If you take images in sections, give yourself overlap because many cameras loose focus at the outer edges of the picture. This would be a safer way to digitize the newspaper since you won't have to flip the fragile paper over as often.

If you do not have a scanner or camera at home, check with your local library (main branch would be best) to see if they have scanners available for use in their computer area. They would also have someone who could help you stitch the images together if you need more than one scan. If available, this would be your most cost-effective option that would give you the best results.

I hopes this helps you make a decision on how to proceed. If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to ask "Dear Donia" again.