The official launch of IslandNewspapers.ca, a fully searchable online archive of digitized Island historic newspapers and newspaper history, took place today at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery.
The project is a collaborative partnership consisting of the UPEI Robertson Library, The Guardian, the PEI Public Archives and Records Office, and UPEI’s Hacker-in-Residence Peter Rukavina. The UPEI Library’s ongoing islandarchives.ca digitization initiative, of which this project is a part, is made possible by the generous support of a number of individual and institutional donors, including the St. Dunstan’s University Board of Governors and alumni, James Simpson Palmer, and the Prince of Wales College Alumni Association.
“The online tool currently contains The Guardian content from 1890-1957, and as the project gets underway, additional newspaper titles and content will be added each year,” said UPEI Librarian Mark Leggott. “UPEI is very excited to officially launch this search tool which is just one example of projects we have been able to provide based partly on this history of giving."
The online tool is available, free of charge, through any computer with a web browser. The project partners expect that broad access to the site will be reflected by widespread use, and this has been a key consideration in selecting The Guardian as the first newspaper for inclusion in islandnewspapers.ca. Following the trend seen in most Canadian provinces, the PEI capital city’s largest daily newspaper –The Guardian – has established itself over time as the provincial paper of record. A byproduct of The Guardian’s efforts to be a newspaper with the broadest possible appeal is a uniquely wide-ranging and diverse record of Island life.
Now anyone with an interest in the Island’s past—be they a professional scholar, a genealogist, a community historian, a student, or a simply curious browser—has free online access to this record, freed from the confines of decayed newsprint or faded microfilm.
“Christmas has come early for people interested in PEI history and culture. Thanks to this wonderful digitalization project, old newspapers have gotten a new lease on life, as they are now literally just a click away on a computer keyboard,” said Gary MacDougall, managing editor of The Guardian. “This is a marvelous project and it’s free and available to everyone from my six-year-old granddaughter in Hartsville to my wife’s 95-year-old aunt in Belfast. The people at the Robertson Library, and all their supporters, deserve a huge debt of thanks from the public.”
Notwithstanding the importance of The Guardian, the project partners fully appreciate the rich diversity of PEI’s newspaper culture, and look forward to adding titles to islandnewspapers.ca in future, as funding and resources allow. With this in mind, a key component of the islandnewpapers.ca site is the “Donate” page, where users can learn more about how they can help grow the islandnewspapers.ca digitized collections in future.