Grant to help digitize paper

It has been quite joyful in the offices of The Catholic Globe with the awarding of a $10,000 grant from Missouri River Historical Development, Inc. (MRHD) of Sioux City.

This MRHD grant will help support the digitization of nearly 7,000 pages of the newspaper, published over the past 70 years. This project will provide the public with access to rare, historically-significant – but often fragile – newspaper documents and photos from its huge collection in an online digital format.

The pages will be transferred to The Advantage Companies of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for processing, scanning, and archiving for placement on a searchable website and hard drive.

In addition to creating a website specifically for that purpose, the newspaper is looking to be part of a new consortium of online resources, the Catholic Research Resources Alliance, for those interested in accessing any type of Catholic information.

The Catholic Globe, as the official newspaper for the Diocese of Sioux City, shares in the mission of the bishop of the diocese – proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ by providing information, catechesis and a forum for discussion.

The first edition of The Catholic Globe was dated Oct. 30, 1949, to serve the 24 counties in the Diocese of Sioux City. The metro-sized paper began as an eight-page wrap-around of 12 pages of the national, tabloid newspaper, Our Sunday Visitor, before becoming an independent publication. In 2006, the paper returned to its tabloid format. The newspaper counts almost 26,000 subscribers among the almost 81,000 Catholics in Northwest Iowa.

However, the faith-based history of the diocese is more than just a history of the Catholic Church at the local, county and regional levels. The information contained in the newspaper documents the people and culture of the area over the past 70 years; often defined by the societal values, politics, and changing attitudes towards development and growth in the region. The Globe reveals the modern story of Us as a People of Woodbury County and Northwest Iowa.

Yet, finding the information in the archived newspapers can be a challenge.

Most of the editions of the newspaper are contained in bound volumes. These volumes are heavy and cumbersome and accessible by appointment only. The Globe’s website contains information from 2003, yet those articles have “keywords” associated with searches. Someone wishing to find specific information may come up empty-handed if the keyword they want was not typed in the original saving of the article.

A digitized newspaper makes all its information searchable and accessible to anyone with internet access, simply by entering keywords into the search engine of the digitized website. The new digitization will recognize all words in the scanned documents and provide a list of all pages and all editions those words will appear.

Upon completion of the project, anyone with internet access will be able to search for information via The Catholic Globe, or resources captured through a relationship with the Catholic Research Resources Alliance, about Catholic parishes, churches, institutions and schools – even those which no longer exist.

The overall project is expected to cost at least $20,000 so the MRHD grant is pivotal in making this a reality. We have no plans on charging a fee for this online access, as we see it as giving back to the community for the seven decades of support.

Work has already started, and our goal is to have the project done in one year. At the end of this project, we will introduce the website to the public by hosting a website launch reception, honoring all who had a part in making this happen.

Please keep your diocesan newspaper in your prayers as we embark on this new enterprise. Again, thanks to the MRHD grant review committee for seeing value in our project.

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