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Caribou Public Library awarded grant to digitize local newspaper collection

CARIBOU, Maine — Thanks to a major grant, the Caribou Public Library is helping history enthusiasts explore Caribou’s past through local newspaper archives.

Recently, the library received a $20,000 grant from the Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation to finish converting microfilms of the Aroostook Republican & News into digital form on the library’s website.

The library wrote the grant in collaboration with the Aroostook County Genealogical Society, which partners with local libraries on family ancestry research.

Unlike online documents, microfilms require a special machine for reading and are highly sensitive to damage if handled improperly. Digitizing the newspaper records will allow anyone to search for articles online based on topics, names or key words from the story, Library Director Peter Baldwin said.

The library often receives requests for microfilm viewing when people are tracing their family’s history or if city employees need information on certain places, like the municipal airport, he said.

“[The new digital records] will make it easier for anyone to find information on their own,” Baldwin said. 

Currently, the library’s digital collection of Aroostook Republican issues goes from 1887 to 1894. But the entire microfilm collection goes from 1887 to 1960, a full 73 years worth of issues.

With full grant funding, the library will finish digitizing the microfilms within the next two months, Baldwin said.

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