Like the other collections in UFDC, the Florida Digital Newspaper Library is expanding rapidly. The Florida Digital Newspaper has added 158,989 pages, doubling the previous size for a total page count of 279,507. Sometimes I prefer to post statistics like page and item counts because those can speak more effectively to how much mass is there and to its usefulness even if people aren’t sure what they might be looking for or why–just knowing that there’s enough stuff can help indicate critical mass and use value. For the Florida Digital Newspaper Library, the number of pages is useful as are examples of the titles and coverage. However, what I think is most useful right now is being able to see the full (or nearly full) runs of select newspaper titles. Many of the newspapers in Florida only had a few publication years before closing or merging with other papers so while the long and continuous issues are impressive, they’re impressive becausethey speak to the coverage across the years even through the many different titles.
For instance, for the Jax Air News, a military newspaper for the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida (most often referred to as NAS or NAS Jax), the Florida Digital Newspaper Library has issues loaded for these years: 1945-46; 1951-57; 1961-62; 1964-67; 1969-1971; 1973; 1975; and 2005. We have many more years to load and we’ll have them online soon, but the papers already loaded give glimpses into different eras, and the histories of those times as they were being experienced. With a similarly long coverage, The Star newspaper for Port St. Joe, Florida has 1937-1985 and 1988-2005. The Star has sixty-six years of newspapers online allowing its full sixty-six years of print to speak to the stories of the past. The Clewiston News has 1928-1945 and 2005-6 online and The Bradford County Telegraph has 1888-1893; 1895-1898; 1900; 1902; 1906-7; 1910; 1926-7; 1932-3; 1940-41; 1962; 1985; 2005-06.
The long runs with sporadically spaced years loaded may seem strange, but because the newspapers were old and Florida’s hot, many of the newspapers were digitized from microfilm by a vendor and then those papers were transferred to us (UF’s Digital Library Center) on hard drives to process. To maximize space (which is always too limited even with many, many terabytes in use), the papers are spaced by size so a paper with so many years and so many pages may have select years on one drive and other years on another. We process these all as quickly as we can, but we have more to go then we’ve loaded so far so we’ll certainly be over half a million pages just by loading the drives. In the meantime, enjoy the papers that are online and know that more are loaded daily.
In fact, some of my personal favorites don’t have as many years loaded, like The Florida Alligator which was UF’s student newspaper before it became the Independent Florida Alligator (1990 and 2005 online). The Florida Alligator‘s issues for 1945-8 and 1964 are online. Also, for Orlando, the 1914-1915 issues of The Morning Sentinel are online and so are the 1947 issues of the Orlando Morning Sentinel, papers from a time when Orlando wasn’t huge. I don’t know if I can really think of Orlando as something other than a sprawling city, but these papers definitely make that more possible in my mind by helping to show an Orlando I’ve never met but would like to know.