ALA 2022 After the Pandemic

it seemed fitting to reflect on the expectations of a return to D.C. THREE years after being halted due to the pandemic. Check those reflections out HERE.

The FIRST day of the ALA 2022 Conference, AFTER THREE years, back in D.C. and I wanted to dive in on what usually was a slow first day of conferences –

The Library of Congress was the correct way to dive right in – so I started with signing up for a revisit of their resources through the program, sponsored by the Library of Congress and the Reference and User Services Association. Their program, Family History & Genealogy Pre-Conference Workshgop @ Library of Congress : ALA Annual meeting – Thursday, Jue 23, 2022 gave me the feeling of sneaking into the front door, before it was time to eat.

A PERFECT start to what I hoped would be an amazing conference 🙂

The first workshop, “Chronicling America” presented by Henry Carter representing the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room turned the pages of some pretty amazing pages. (Check under Digital Collections, then on the LEFT page menu, find NEWSPAPERS, click, and scroll to find Chronicling America. The newspapers you will find are the heart of this collection.

Thanks to the National Endowment of the Humanities Partnership, the amazing link to newspapers beyond imagination exists.

Some great stats revealed – 48 states and 28 MILLION pages are accessible and digitized due to this collection. Literally, from 1775- 1962 have been made available as rights open up to digitize and restore more.

All newspapers currently before 1926 fall under public doman, which dictates alot of the available newspapers. Anything that falls after December 23, 1963 still is protected under copyright.

Some criteria based on what goes into representing each state, local institutions decide what goes in the collection, so local historical societies, etc. help make that decision, not just any individual.

Some of the criteria falls under the historical signficance of the newspaper being considered, the element of diversity represented, is this considered a newspaper of record?

Most scanned newspapers came from microfilm, and in fact, still have (some) the microfilm if the backup was needed in event of a disaster (fire, flood, etc)..

Most of the originals that were hoped to be saved fell victim to being destroyed or simply falling apart, but pdfs and jpg formats of the originals are what have been used to keep them available.

OCR is used to view the newspapers, and some time line comparisons:

-In 1800 newspapers were roughly 4 pages

-In 1900, newspapers were at least 8 pages, thanks to reviews, sports, but still considered a resource for elite readers.

-In 1960 – newspapers now were HUNDREDS of pages per season, and had begun to fall under an automated system for printing.

Many minority press newspapers represent the collection to give a view into history at the time through the pages of newspapers.

A good question came up, how does the collection seek to not or to, include newspapers that may contain bias. The one thing about history, some newspapers were indeed bias or had political and racial leanings and that helps look into the past and see what the events were at the time, based on the tone of the newspapers.

(ALERT – AMAZING how certified, Information Science librarians can help point this out and guide individuals to determine what is non-bias and bias when sifting through news!)

Some amazing advanced options exist when you can look and enlarge /zoom in on pages, how you can search by state and date ranges, there is an interactive map that can show you the newspapers represented from geographic areas, as well as being able to search newspapers by specific date.

The amazing thing was when Mr, Carter was asked to present a pitch for why anyone would want to use this amazing resourece, these seemed to be obvious enough:


-There is SUCH a great variety of newspapers AND years (think about papers representing Japanese Internment, the Jewish point of view and THOUSANDS MORE!)

-Alot of newspapers can be searched and found by ethnicity

-The ability of this being so interactive

Mr. Carter, when asked, what stood out to him most out of all in this collection (impossible question) – he referred to one cool aspect when Hawaii monarchy was overthrown and seeing the headlines and information in newspapers about this.

Having the newspapers available, published in the U.S. from 1960 to the present is a treasure that most do not realize until you can get students INTO the newspapers, and hence, into American History.

Check out Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington D.C.!

And this was only the FIRST workshop of Day One of the American Library Association Annual Conference, day ONE only! 🙂 Stay tuned for the next workshop of Day One coming!

A slideshow of amazing views from the first day will be coming next, which is an amazing look at elements of research and history in our nation’s capital.