Columbia University Libraries and the Columbia Spectator announce the public release of the Columbia Spectator Archive website. This site represents the first phase of a multiyear project to digitize the full run of the Columbia Spectator, Columbia's student newspaper and the second-oldest college daily in the United States. In its current phase, the Spectator Archive includes nearly 4,000 issues published from 1955 through 1992, totaling more than 30,000 pages. When completed, it will include issues from the paper's beginnings in 1877 through the present.
The goals of the Archive are to provide a public resource for Columbia University history and to preserve the Spectator's past work. "The Spectator is important, not simply as a document of Columbia's past, but also of New York City's history, covering it's political, educational and social changes," University Archivist Susan Hamson said.
The new Spectator Archive will, for the first time, allow current Spectator editors and staff to have direct access to the content of older issues, and it will position the paper to keep up with evolving trends in the news industry. "Keeping up means that we need a digital strategy both for today's news and for more than a century of our irreplaceable archives," Wendy Brandes, chair of the Spectator's Board of Trustees, said.
Whenever possible, Spectator issues were scanned from the original paper versions, and high-quality, color digital reproductions were generated. State-of-the-art optical character recognition, automatic text parsing software, and a powerful search and display system, provided by Digital Data Divide and Digital Library Consulting, respectively, allow for article-level access as well as full text searching of the entire Archive. The project, which is being jointly funded by the Libraries and the Spectator, has been challenging as many of the original volumes required paper repair and conservation due to their fragile condition from years of use.
The Archive is the result of a unique partnership between the Columbia Spectator and the University Archives, a unit of Columbia University Libraries. Within the Libraries, the project was carried out by the Preservation and Digital Conversion Division and the Libraries Digital Program Division. The project also benefits from shared technology resources provided by Cornell University Libraries under the auspices of the Columbia/Cornell 2CUL partnership.
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 500 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.