AKRON, Ohio – The Reporter, Akron’s African-American newspaper, is now digitized and available free online, on the Ohio Memory website, beginning with the first issue published Oct. 11, 1969.
The Akron newspaper is now among hundreds of digitized Ohio newspapers — more than 315,000 pages so far – offered through Ohio Memory, a collaboration between the Ohio History Connection in conjunction with the State Library of Ohio.
The Akron-Summit County Public Library received a $10,000 grant from the Dick and Chris Chenoweth Fund of the Akron Community Foundation toward the $16,000 project. The library made up the balance of the cost.
The Reporter was founded in response to a lack of coverage of the African-American community by the mainstream media, said Special Collections Division Manager Mary Plazo at the library’s main branch.
“The Reporter is not only a unique resource to the city but to the entire community,” she said. “It’s one of the few resources that documents the African-American community.”
Another important document, digitized and available as part of the library’s online book collection, is a dissertation titled “The Contributions of Blacks in Akron,” by the late Dr. Shirla R. McClain, a University of Akron professor, Plazo said. In it, McClain documents Akron’s African-American community from 1875-1975.
Many Ohio libraries and other entities are now looking to digitize newspapers and other important works, because it enables users to easily search by date or keyword, rather than spending hours going through reels of microfilm, said Jenni Salamon, program coordinator for the Ohio Digital Newspaper Program.
Salamon worked with the library to digitize The Reporter.
“Part of the goal is making sure people are being helped in moving their history projects forward,” she said. “I just want them to have all the info they’ll need before they start the project, so they can make an educated decision about what’s best for their project.”
With the Ohio Digital Newspaper Program, newspapers can be digitized in stages. Digitization is priced per page under various pricing options, with discounts and specials offered.
Making Ohio history available to all is a main goal of the project.
“We’ll never be done digitizing,” Salamon said. “Other libraries are doing it on their own or with other vendors. We’re all working toward the same goal.”
To learn about digitizing content, Salamon will present “Searching The Reporter, Akron’s African-American newspaper and other digital historic newspapers now available on Ohio Memory” on Wednesday, Oct. 25, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Akron-Summit County Public Library in Meeting Room 2AB, 60 S. High St. downtown.
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