Southwords Archiving

June 2012  
Maine South - English Department - Mr. Alexander Stathakis
Foundation Award: $1500

This one-time project is unique in that it benefits not only the current student population of Maine South, but all Maine South alumni, staff, and community members. Southwords, the Maine South student press, is important to our entire community. Unfortunately, because of our limited printing, usually only those who are in the building actually get to see copies of our newspaper. Once those copies are gone— no one ever sees them again. We are contacted quite frequently by current students, alumni, and other community members inquiring about back issues of Southwords and whether any exist. In our office, we have nearly every back issue of the school newspaper going back to the school’s inception in 1964. This unparalleled source of school history sits untouched because no one has access to it. 

Maine South’s 50th anniversary is coming up, and as part of our 50th volume in the 2013-2014 school year, it is our goal to have every issue of Southwords ever produced available online in an easy-to-read, searchable format. Not only would this provide our community with a better sense of the history of our school and help students understand their place in history, but it would serve as a lasting legacy for all future students. It is imperative that these archives be digitized now so that we can ensure that they, along with the knowledge they contain, won’t be lost. 

We would like to digitize and archive every back issue of the Maine South student newspaper, Southwords. This project has a wide scope of participants. The students who work on the school newspaper will be working to organize the back issues and create the web presence associated with the archive. Both the current journalism/newspaper students and all future journalism/newspaper students will use this archive as a resource for research, brainstorming, historical perspective, and journalistic criticism. As each new issue is produced, students will archive issues themselves and add to our collection so that Southwords provides a complete perspective on Maine South History. 

Beyond the current and future journalism programs at Maine South, this project will benefit current and future students in many other classes, most specifically Language Arts and Social Sciences. Students frequently are required to do research projects related to Maine South and the only source of information currently is oral history. This archive would provide our students with a wealth of knowledge that our library and the Internet cannot currently provide them with. 

Furthermore, this project benefits all stakeholders in the Maine South community, past and present. Nowhere else is Maine South’s history more carefully detailed than in the pages of Southwords, and it is important that this resource be available to the community.

We have over a decade of newspapers already digitized, butwe need to digitize the remaining 37 years for archival and web access. The papers are currently stapled, taped, or in binders and we would unbind them to loose single sheets for scanning at 300 ppi, 8 bit grayscale .pdf files. The digital files would be auto cropped to show page edge, de-skewed and named to create searchable, OCR PDF files.  Additional funding is needed to outsource the large-size scanning hardware to accommodate the broadsheet editions of Southwords that existed through the 1980s 

The sole cost for this project is in the digitization of back issues because we have found free solutions for hosting these archival issues online so that they can be searched or browsed in an easy-to-read format, and the students are willing to work to build the web presence and upload the hundreds of documents.