About the Northwestern California Newspapers Website

Grant Summary

Humboldt State University Library
Humboldt Room
Northwestern California Newspapers

September 2004

The Northwestern California Newspapers website is the public presentation of an ongoing project whose purpose is preservation and access to local newspapers and recognition of their unique role in understanding a region's history and heritage. The website was conceived broadly to include, but not be limited to the following elements:

  • Union list of local holdings
  • Timeline of local newspapers with "family trees" of important newspapers
  • Bibliography on the history of Northwestern California newspapers and journalism with full text of articles as possible
  • Scanned images of the first available issue of each of the area's newspapers
  • Links to Internet versions of current newspaper titles
  • K-12 curriculum guide for using newspapers as primary source materials
  • Historical overview and selected and commissioned articles on the role of newspapers and major journalists in Northwestern California
  • Guide to indexing access to local newspapers

A one year grant* allowed the HSU Library to build on the work of the California Newspaper Project (CNP) which surveyed Humboldt and Del Norte Counties in summer 1999. A primary objective of that grant was to develop a model for ongoing maintenance of the CNP database at a regional level. The website incorporates the results of the updates we have identified as of September 2004, including title changes, cessations, new titles, additional holdings and corrected information based on additional research.

Other objectives of the grant were to summarize index access to the region's newspapers and to identify titles for future filming, purchasing, and replacement of deteriorated microfilm.

Project staff: Joan Berman, Edie Butler, Laurie Maxwell-Chamberlain, Gisela Rohde
Project consultants: Merry Schellinger, Susie Van Kirk
Project student assistants: Nathaniel Haas, Drogheda NiFaolain, Leigh Westfall

* This project was supported in part by the U. S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

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CNP Update Model
Filming, etc. Lists

California Newspaper Project (CNP) Updates: Towards a Model

"Procedures will be developed for updating the CNP database and published as a best practices guideline." --Northwestern California Newspapers: California State Library LSTA Grant Award #40-5842, Humboldt State University Library.

As we identified examples of updates to be made to the CNP we began to categorize them and to discuss possibilities with Andrea Vanek, Assistant Director of the CNP. At the same time we were reviewing our existing policies and procedures for cataloging newspapers, both for our local catalog and as an OCLC participant, individually and as a member of the California State University Libraries. This activity is summarized in detail in a report prepared by Laurie Maxwell-Chamberlain. We have prepared a list of updates and corrections to be made to the CNP public database as well as to the working database. The most straightforward category is new titles that began after the CNP survey of the region. In this case we have cataloged the titles and then referred them to CNP staff for authentication to full level CONSER standards on OCLC. The most difficult categories are those where conflicting evidence points towards errors in the CNP holdings information and in determining where, if indeed anywhere, the original master microfilm is held.

Practices for Updating Newspaper Records at Humboldt State University Library
Laurie Maxwell-Chamberlain
April 2004

HSU has a local practice of cataloging newspapers, unlike, we were surprised to learn, many public and college libraries in the state. This has probably given us a head start in efforts to coordinate our records with the California Newspaper Project. However, in some instances the cataloging record we used in our local catalog was different than the one used (and perhaps cataloged) by the California Newspaper Project. In most if not all cases this was because we had chosen (or created) a format specific bibliographic record when all of our holdings were on microfilm, rather than using a "master record" bibliographic record as the CNP had done. Therefore, one of our first decisions was to simplify the tasks of updating holdings and synchronizing records with the CNP by adopting a practice of using the "master record" in our local catalog.

Another decision we made was to itemize, rather than summarize, our newspaper holdings, as time allowed. This was important because we soon found ourselves poring over CNP data, looking at holdings of newspaper originals in other repositories, and trying to identify newspaper issues that are not included in our microfilm copy. In this effort, a note in our catalog "scattered issues wanting" was not helpful. To augment our holdings, there were instances in which we were able to copy the itemized holdings from UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library, if our film was produced by the same vendor (information on filmer is helpfully listed in the CNP data). In other instances, we had to view the film in order to identify gaps in holdings. As this effort progresses, and after visits to public and private collections to verify and perhaps find additional holdings, we will compile a list of newspaper originals which are unique (not included in microfilm sets) and which need to be preserved, either by microfilming or possibly by scanning.

About this same time, we received an Interlibrary Loan request for an issue of the Del Norte Record, which we had to return unfilled because the issue being requested wasn't included on our microfilm copy. This reinforced the importance of updating our OCLC Union Listing record (known as the Local Data Record or LDR) with our new itemized holdings information, since LDR holdings display to other libraries and patrons on the database WorldCat. For many years, HSU had been committed to inputting and updating summary institution holding LDR's for periodicals, but not newspapers, as part of a CSU Union List agreement, so once again we are fortunate to have some training in OCLC Union Listing software and procedures. As a separate effort, CNP staff added more detailed copy holding LDR's for local county newspapers as part of their project in fall 1998, but these were never proofread or updated by HSU staff. Therefore, the additional decision was made, that in conjunction with bibliographic record verifying, and holdings updating, we would maintain and update our local county newspaper LDR holdings at the copy level, including adding itemized holdings as these were finished.

Having a mechanism for reporting changes and updates to the CNP database is the last piece to the overall goal of harmonizing newspaper records between HSU's catalog, the OCLC Union List, and CNP. We have just begun developing procedures for this, so in addition to some answers, there are still questions. Andrea Vanek, Assistant Director of the CNP, has told us that she would like us to initiate changes to a CNP record by sending e-mail listing the record's OCLC number, along with a brief explanation of the nature of the change. CNP staff will then look up the title in OCLC and copy necessary information into the CNP database. Whether CNP would like us to batch our list of changes, and at what intervals they would like to receive them, needs to be worked out, once we catch up with a backlog of over four years.

There are a variety of additional work issues which are difficult to answer, due to the CNP project being a collaborative effort between CNP staff (whose ongoing funding at this point is unsure) and staff in the many participating repositories (who often are either under staffed or inconsistently staffed by volunteers). One of the more manageable questions concerns cataloging for a newspaper which is either new or has changed its title. Because of HSU's existing policy, we will continue to do necessary cataloging of newspapers local to our area (Humboldt, Del Norte, and Trinity counties), and will next refer these cataloging records to CNP staff (while this is an option) for authentication to full level CONSER standards. However, a question which can't be answered at this time is, for local repositories other than HSU, who will be responsible for updating LDR and CNP holdings? Unfortunately, it looks like this updating will have to be a project, done at a later date. In the meantime, important steps have been taken to preserve and to share information about an important historic resource.

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"Report will be written summarizing index access to Humboldt and Del Norte County newspapers" --Northwestern California Newspapers: California State Library LSTA Grant Award #40-5842, Humboldt State University Library.

Filming, etc. Lists

"Titles will be identified for future filming" --Northwestern California Newspapers: California State Library LSTA Grant Award #40-5842, Humboldt State University Library.

What begins as a simple question of whether we should purchase copies of microfilm which we lack quickly turns into a research question as we find additional original issues which should be included in the film to be purchased, so this process has been more complicated than originally anticipated.

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The Northwestern California Newspaper Project is managed by the Humboldt Room located in the Humboldt State University Library