Montana State Library Achieves Major Milestone in Digitization Project

Contributed by  Sara” <sgroves@mt.gov>,METNET:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   Contact:        Sara Groves     
March 24, 2011                                                  (406) 444-5357
Montana State Library Achieves  Major Milestone in Digitization Project
(HELENA)—The Montana State Library is pleased to announce that it has reached a significant milestone in its project to digitize its collection of state publications:  a million pages have now been digitized and made available to patrons all over the world via the Internet.  
The Montana State Library is digitizing and placing online its entire legacy print collection of approximately 55,000 state publications dating from the 1870s.  The project, which will take several years, was undertaken to increase access to the State Library’s collection as well as preserve and protect some of the older and more delicate print publications.  
“The digitization effort is a tremendous success,” said Darlene Staffeldt, Montana State Librarian.  “We are nearly 20 percent complete and the use rates for the online versions of our Montana state publication collection are more than 250 times their print equivalent.”
Digitization is the process of converting information from an analog format like print, VHS, or audio cassettes, to a digital format.  Print state publications are digitally photographed page by page.  These photographed images are then put through software that reads text from print images, which makes each document searchable by keyword.
“When a document is searchable by keyword, the person using it for research can type in a word they’re interested in, such as ‘water rights’,” said Staffeldt.  “Once they hit the search button, every single instance of the phrase ‘water rights’ is highlighted in the document, making it infinitely valuable for researchers.  Digitization of these documents increases awareness of the rich information contained in state publications and opens up new research possibilities.”  
In addition to being keyword searchable, all of the digital publications in the Montana State Library collection are available online, around the clock, to anyone with an Internet connection.  In addition to other formats, the digital publications are available in PDF for easy saving, emailing, and printing.  The publications are also available in the Kindle format for use on Kindle book readers.  Finally, each publication is available for use with computer screen readers so they can be heard by persons who are blind or otherwise unable to read the print versions.
The Montana State Library is completing the digitization project with existing dollars; no new monies were provided for the project.  
“We had originally hoped to have every state publication digitized by the end of the 2013 biennium,” said Staffeldt.  “However, with current budget and staff reductions, our digitization effort has been slowed.  In spite of this, we will continue to make steady progress towards our goal of digitizing each of our 55,000 state publications.”  
The Montana State Library partnered with world digitization leader, the Internet Archive, to complete the project.  Publications are being digitized in order from the beginning of the collection to the end in the Dewey decimal classification order.  Once a publication has been digitized, it is returned to the State Library and then those documents of historical significance are made available at the Montana Historical Society Research Center in addition to being made available digitally.  
Through its statewide programs, the Montana State Library empowers Montanans; enhances learning in families and communities; builds 21st Century skills; and provides opportunities for civic participation. For more information about the Montana State Library, visit http://msl.mt.gov/.   
For more information about the digitization project, visit http://msl.mt.gov/digitization/ or contact Sara Groves, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, at (406) 444-5357 or via e-mail at: sgroves@mt.gov.
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Sara J. Groves
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Montana State Library
PO Box 201800
Helena, MT 59620-1800
PH: (406) 444-5357
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Montana State Library Achieves Major Milestone in Digitization Project