As we all begin 2010 - many of us start cleaning house - which for library world may mean digitization of old newspapers. I recently spoke with Devhra Bennett Jones a Digital Archivist at the Abilene Library Consortium about digitization of newspapers.
As you begin this process remember that it takes time and money to get this process done. However, you can begin the steps towards making this a reality.
If it may be some time before you are able to begin the actual digitization of the newspapers, store them in Uline boxes that fit newspapers. If nothing else, be sure and line cardboard boxes with acid free tissue paper for short storage.
When the process is begun for digitization, the vendor will microfilm the collection first so that you have a preservation copy. Most vendors bill per image and there are 2 pages per image. The first and last page of the newspaper will be billed each as an image. You will need to get the newspapers in descending order with the most recent on the bottom of the pile. You will also want to compile an inventory of issues so you have an estimate of how many images you need digitized.
If you already have the newspaper on microfilm, be sure to inspect it for quality - is it too dark, too light, scratched in the text? Scracthes on the edges is usually okay.
Be sure and get specifics with the vendor you select, are they using Optimal Character Recognition (OCR)? What are their criteria for how to box the papers? What steps can do yourself in order to get the collection ready that will decrease the costs of the project?