Ed. Note: This is a guest post from our newest Preservation student assistant, Hilary McCreery. Hilary is about to start her second year in the UCLA MLIS program, and is actively pursuing interests in preservation and conservation topics.
A current project of interest in the UCLA Preservation Department entails the review of and recommendation for the digitization of Shin Nichibei: New Japanese American News, a newspaper that was published in Los Angeles in the mid-20th century. UCLA Library is the only known institution to hold copies of this newspaper, making the preservation and digitization of the news source more important than ever. More than just rare, this newspaper offers a distinct perspective of life in Los Angeles in the mid-20th century. Because its intended audience was constituents of a specific diaspora in Los Angeles (Japanese-American), the content of the paper represents issues and news stories that reflected the interests and concerns of this population. For this reason, Shin Nichibei would not necessarily contain the same news stories as larger regional newspapers (e.g. The Los Angeles Times) or would at least offer a different and unique perspective on the same issues covered by more mainstream newspapers. This newspaper would be a valuable resource for anyone studying the Japanese-American diaspora in Los Angeles or Japanese immigration in Los Angeles, as well as for anyone looking for historical, alternative news sources published in Los Angeles in the 1940s-1960s.
The newspaper is printed in English and Japanese and features articles, classified advertisements, commercial advertisements, photography and a daily cartoon illustration. While the newspapers are generally intact, the condition of the paper is brittle and somewhat faded. Many pages have sustained tears at the edges due to poor handling.
In researching ways to better preserve and digitize this material, I came across several resources that detailed specific methods for the storage and handling of newspapers, as well as suggestions for best practices for digitization.
- Library of Congress: Preservation Measures for Newspapers —The Library of Congress provides basic protocol and recommendations for handling and storing newspapers, as well as touches on conservation treatment and reformatting options for newspapers. This resource served as a good starting point in determining storage and handling standards for the Shin Nichibei preservation project.
- Northeast Document Conservation Center: Storage & Handling —The Northeast Document Conservation Center offers many sources of information for caring for collections, both physical and digital. I found the Storage Solutions for Oversized Paper Artifacts especially helpful in determining storage options and protocol for the Shin Nichibei newspapers.
- North Carolina Digital Heritage Center: Digitization Guidelines —The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center promotes the high-quality digitization of cultural heritage materials and offers recommendations for best practice in doing so. This resource was especially helpful in determining what hardware to use to digitize the Shin Nichibei newspapers. The website also offered specific processes for and examples of newspaper digitization, all of which was incredibly relevant to the Shin Nichibei preservation project.
Shin Nichibei is an important resource for the UCLA library and implementing best practices for handling and storage are crucial to help mitigate the deterioration and extend the lifespan of this historical resource. Moreover, digitizing the newspaper will allow for wider access to this unique resource, which in turn, will allow the history of the Japanese-American community in Los Angeles to be remembered forever.