$216,000 in State funding for the “California Newspaper Project” (CNP) was cut last year and is cut in the current budget. This state funding supports a number of newspaper projects that preserve and digitize California newspapers for state residents, services no other organizations in the state provide, and that bring in substantial federal and private grant funds, approximately $5.8 million over the last 10 years. These projects will come to an end without continued state support.
The California Newspaper Project (CNP) has received State funding through the California State Library since 2001. For the first few years the State funding was used to match federal grant dollars to microfilm “at-risk” California newspapers, that is papers for which limited copies survived and that were deteriorating. As an offshoot of that project, the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research (CBSR) was able to acquire and is preserve approximately 100,000 reels of California newspaper microfilm, the single largest archive of its kind in the country. It will be archived in the UC system and freely accessible to all state citizens (http://cnma.ucr.edu). Over the last few years the State funding has been used to develop the California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC) and to match federal dollars to digitize historical California newspapers. The CDNC has become the single largest archive of digitized California newspapers, about 500,000 pages and growing, and is freely available to the public for searching at http://cdnc.ucr.edu. The CDNC is a state treasure that serves all age groups and users—especially K-12 and genealogists—and partners with institutions and localities across the state to digitize local papers.
Last year Assembly Bill No. 121 (AB 121) eliminated all of the $216,000 in state funding for the CNP. This funding has also been eliminated from next year’s budget.
Over the last months the CBSR has severally cut staff hours. If State funding is not restored, work on preserving the remaining newspaper microfilm and digitizing state papers will come to a halt and will be difficult or impossible to fully resume again. Furthermore, lack of state funding will impede the Center’s ability to raise matching funds. In the last decade the newspaper projects have secured over $5.8 million in federal and private grants, at a cost of about $2.5 million to state residents, a remarkable return on investment. At least 2 federal grant applications for 2012 will be in jeopardy without State funding.
The $216,000 budget line that supports the CNP is a very small part of the larger state budget, but it has been absolutely vital for the creation and support of unique and invaluable newspaper resources. Restoration of this funding will allow the newspaper projects to “weather the storm” this year, to grow and expand in 2012 and beyond, and continue to provide unrivaled and exceptional resources for the State and its citizens.
As avid users of the California Digital Newspaper Collection, we urge you, the budget committees, to restore State funding to the California Newspaper Projects.