Marina Georgieva, Project Manager for the National Digital Newspaper Project (NDNP) at UNLV
If you're curious about some of the work UNLV Libraries Special Collections staff members are doing in the archives, our Staff Highlight feature answers commonly-asked questions about their projects and perspectives. Here, Marina Georgieva, Project Manager for the National Digital Newspaper Project, offers a look into her current activities with this ongoing effort to provide permanent access to a national digital resource of historic newspapers.
1. What are you working on right now? How will it contribute to Nevada as a whole?
As the second project cycle just got rolling, I am still developing the workflow. My main focus right now is to establish a simple and consistent workflow that will ensure smooth and efficient digitization process and easy well-coordinated communication with partners and other people involved in the project.
Digitizing old newspapers is a very exciting project that will bring to the users valuable historic content for research and entertainment. The goal of the Nevada Digital Newspaper Project is to digitize all newspapers in the public domain that have historical value and make them freely accessible online at the official Chronicling America website so people across the world to have access to them.
Prior to this project, users interested in Nevada history would need to travel to do research onsite, and the research itself would take much longer as finding information on microfilms is tedious and time-consuming task. Now, with the Nevada newspaper content digitized and available for the public, doing research is easy. This task is further facilitated by the search functionality provided to the online users.
The NDNP is a valuable program that will benefit users of all ages and backgrounds. It will promote Nevada's local history and will provide easy access to anyone interested in early Nevada facts and events, and how the national and international events echoed in the Nevadans’ lives. The best part is that the project digitizes newspapers from all communities around the state, some of which are now ghost towns. I am excited that people from all over the world have free access to research how Nevada settlements were formed and discover fascinating facts about pioneers’ lives.
2. How did you first become involved with the Nevada Digital Newspaper Project?
I was working at the UNLV Digital Collections and my job was to oversee the workflow of the digitization projects. I got involved in the newspaper project as the team needed some help. I was fascinated by the scale of this project and its impact on the Nevada historical and cultural heritage. I was very happy when I was offered to oversee the second project cycle, because I knew I could contribute to the state of Nevada and anyone interested in Nevada history by making another 100k newspaper pages with historic content freely available online.
3. Describe a typical day for you on the project.
One of the reasons why I love working on this project is that my days are so diverse and interesting! There’s no routine -- as we move along the various stages of the project, the activities and the tasks are different. For this reason having a well-documented workflow procedures is important as we can easily get off-track.
At this present stage, my days usually start with checking my email for any new correspondence with our duplication and our digitization vendors, then resolving issues that may have occurred. Then I move to collation (the process of preparing microfilms for digitization by gathering metadata and evaluating the quality). While doing collation, I keep documenting and updating the workflow procedures as my ultimate goal is to simplify this process and make it more efficient. Later during the day, I spend some time resolving ongoing issues and communicating with our team members, project partners, advisory board chairs and co-investigators. Several times a week I work on my favorite task – updating the content of the project website.
4. What is the one question you are most asked about your work?
I’ve been asked multiple times the question “What’s the purpose of the project?” because many people have heard of the newspaper digitization project but they can’t see behind the digitization part. A common confusion is that we are simply digitizing newspapers to preserve them. People are not aware that these newspapers are made available online at no cost; users can browse and search historical content and can use it for scientific or genealogical research or school projects, for example.When I explain that the National Digital Newspaper Program compiles digitized newspapers from across the country in a single database with a user-friendly website interface, people start to understand better the reason why I am so excited to contribute to the digitization of historic newspapers.
5. What is the most fascinating or positive aspect of your job?
Being part of this program of nationwide significance makes me proud but also puts a lot of responsibility on me. I am thrilled to work with these rare materials and contribute to make them accessible online. The most fascinating part of my job is to see the digitized content on the Chronicling America website. This is such a delightful moment – the efforts and the hard work of the whole team are rewarded! In moments like that I get so inspired and motivated to keep doing it.
6. What is the most difficult aspect of your work?
The most difficult aspect of my job is that I never know what to expect from the microfilm reels. Sometimes, during the process of collation, we get unpleasant surprises related to the quality or the content of the microfilm. When this happens it may stall the project and it may take several days until the issue is resolved and we move on. The scariest part is that interruptions of the regular workflow cause significant delays which may result in tighter deadlines. We try to be flexible and work on multiple batches simultaneously, but occasionally we just need to be patient to have the issue resolved in order to continue.
7. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in viewing the newspapers?
Please make use of Chronicling America. It is such a wonderful tool for research and will tremendously help you quickly access thousands of pages of historic newspapers. Regardless the peculiarities of your research, Chronicling America is a valuable resource that will save you time and money! Don’t forget to use the filtering options if you are only interested in Nevada or any other state in particular.