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Santa Monica College Library partners with Backstage to preserve and provide access to eight decades of history


Kat Kamp
Backstage Library Works
n[email protected]

BETHLEHEM, Pa., April 4, 2014 – Santa Monica College Library and Backstage Library Works have joined forces to microfilm and digitize more than 14,000 pages of the college’s student newspaper. The digital images will be hosted by the California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC), an online, text-searchable repository of digitized California newspapers that includes political, business and social history from 1846 to the present. Santa Monica will be the first community college to participate in this historic project.

Santa Monica’s award-winning Corsair newspaper has been in continuous circulation since 1929, informing the college community on news, arts and entertainment, health and lifestyle, opinion and sports. Since the newspaper’s inception, each year’s editions have been bound and stored in the college library. Page sizes vary within the volumes and approximately one-third of the material requires special handling due to acidification and fragility.

Motivated to preserve their valuable collection and make it more accessible to patrons and the public, the library called on Backstage to microfilm and convert 98 volumes of the Corsair into a more research-friendly digital format.

Backstage’s preservation services team in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, began the first of several phases by capturing each page using 35mm silver halide microfilm, adhering to RLG standards. With a shelf life of 500 years, this microfilm will secure the preservation of the Corsair content for generations to come.

After discussing its digitization goals with Backstage, the library decided to have TIFFs processed through article-level segmentation resulting in METS/ALTO XML output. The METS/ALTO format links article metadata in the Library’s Digital Asset Management system and also allows for articles to be highlighted and searched.

As part of the segmentation process, Backstage further improved searchability by manually correcting errors in each headline’s OCR text, enabling near-perfect search results for the end user. Upon completion of the digitization process, Backstage provided the Corsair files to the library for loading onto the CDNC website’s Veridian content management system.

Saul Rubin, Corsair advisor and journalism professor for Santa Monica College reports:

"Knowing that the archives are now preserved in digital and microfilm form is remarkable. We didn’t have microfilm…just bound paper volumes that were fading… if anything had happened, we would have lost all that history. Having a tool that provides digital access to the Corsair archives is also significant. It was a pleasure to work with the Backstage team in developing high quality searchable material for the CDNC.”

Historical records of the Corsair will soon be available on the CDNC website. Backstage will provide news, links, and updates as they become available.

About Santa Monica College

Established in 1929, Santa Monica College is a two-year, public, junior college. Current enrollment is over 30,000 students in more than 90 fields of study. The student newspaper, the Corsair is produced by a dedicated staff of student writers, photographers, editors and designers. The print edition is published weekly, on Wednesday mornings, and is distributed on campus.

The current web edition of Corsair can be found online at:

About Backstage Library Works

Backstage’s objective is to provide the most technologically advanced and efficient means for delivering professional library services. With over 25 years of experience, the company is known for its expertise in handling complex and unique projects. Backstage specializes in solutions for cataloging, authority control, digitization, preservation microfilm, and on-site needs. In providing services to more than a thousand libraries, large and small, public and private, and in locations across the globe, Backstage has cultivated an understanding of libraries, their mission, their operations, and the challenges they face. Backstage offices are located in Provo, Utah, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

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