Historical issues of Town Crier online and free at library

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August 14, 1953 edition of the Idyllwild Town Crier.

August 14, 1953 edition of the Idyllwild Town Crier featuring Ernie Maxwell's original artwork.

The Town Crier, the Idyllwild Library and the Idyllwild Area Historical Society have partnered to provide vintage issues of the town newspaper online and free at the Idyllwild Library. Started in November 1946 by Ernie and Betty Maxwell, the Town Crier is one of Idyllwild’s oldest ongoing businesses.

Shannon Ng, Idyllwild Library librarian, cited the many questions library staff regularly receive as an impetus for starting the online archive, questions such as: “My parents owned a store here in Idyllwild and I’d like to find any of the advertisements they put in the paper”; “When did the Independence Day Parade begin and who was responsible for starting it?”; and “My sister, my friend and I were photographed for the paper in the late ’50s. Can you help me find that picture?”

Said Ng, “Visitors and locals alike pose these questions. Here’s the rub. We usually aren’t able to answer them without thumbing through bound volumes of the old newspapers. Without specific date information, this can be an arduous and time-consuming task.”

So the partnership of the three organizations was born with the goal of digitizing all of the historical issues and making them available and searchable online — at the library and free to the public. Other than at the library, the archive would be available and searchable through NewsBank.com, but with a fee.

Since 2005, the Town Crier has been digitizing each issue as it is published. These issues are searchable by keyword but that feature is not available to the general public or even at the library prior to the launch of this service. In 2014, IAHS began digitizing the historical volumes and making them available on NewsBank.com (at GenealogyBank.com) but only through subscription.

“We have reached an agreement with NewsBank to complete the digitization and host the database providing open and free access through the Idyllwild Library Public Access Computers, and providing password access for the IAHS and the Town Crier to all the published issues from 1946 through 2014,” said Ng.

Ng said both the Friends of the Idyllwild Library and IAHS are soliciting donations to pay the $15,000 cost for digitization. Both organizations have agreed to partner to pay the $150 annual hosting fee in perpetuity.

Currently available are issues from 1946 through 1980 with a still-unfinished gap of 1967 through 1970, but Ng said those years are being processed now. “It takes about three months to digitize 10 years worth of issues,” said Ng.

“We at the library are very grateful for the partnership and the community support that is making this happen,” she added. “Our entire community will benefit from having our history available to browse and search here at the library.”

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