Library Foundation to announce “From Papers to Pixels” campaign

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Library Foundation to announce “From Papers to Pixels” campaign

Posted: 09/04/2015
Library Paper to Pixels CampaignSlipping into the broadsheet pages of East Tennessee history is soon to be a mere mouse click away. At noon on Tuesday, September 8, the Knox County Public Library Foundation will announce its campaign to raise $600,000 to digitize the Knoxville News Sentinel from 1922 – 1990 at a launch event held at the East Tennessee History Center. “From Papers to Pixels” campaign is turning to the community to help fund the one-time expense of digitizing every page of the daily paper, estimated to be just shy of one million pages over the 68-year time frame.  The media is highly encouraged to attend this invitation-only event. 

To date, the Foundation has raised nearly $300,000 from lead donors and supporters toward its overall goal. 

Once the funds have been raised and the paper has been digitized, any person with Knox County Public Library card will be able to search hundreds of thousands of stories published in the paper between 1922 and 1990. Although access to the daily paper has been available on microfilm for decades, finding a particular article demanded knowledge of the approximate date of publication. Otherwise, finding the story could take a lot of time and luck.  

Digitization will allow researchers to explore the paper for any subject or name--in a news story, editorial, photo caption, advertisement, wherever it originaly appeared in the newspaper--from any location. Currently, microfilm of the historic archive of the Knoxville News Sentinel is available to the public only at three locations:  Knox County Public Library (Lawson McGhee Library and the McClung Historical Collection), the University of Tennessee and East Tennessee State University.

Sam Venable, campaign chair of the “From Papers to Pixels” effort, knows first-hand the difficulty of general research on microfilm.   "I have but one word for this project: WOWZERS! Imagine: seven decades of Knoxville’s history—day-by-day, 24/7/365, just as these events unfolded. You’ll be able to see ‘em all—national news, local news, sports, editorials, display ads, classifieds, gossip, comic strips, puzzles, even (ahem) pearls of wisdom from newspaper columnists. Every word and every picture will be there, just as they appeared on the pages of the Knoxville News Sentinel, 1922-1990. Never have we been privy to such a detailed, intimate look into the life and times of our favorite ‘scruffy little city,' " commented Venable. 

At the Library's request, the Foundation adopted the project last year to fund the initial costs of digitizing the archive, which was outside the purview of the Library’s regular budget. Once digitized, the Library will maintain access fees and will hold the digital rights to the paper in perpetuity. 

"Microfilm of historic newspapers is one of the most highly used resources we have," said Steve Cotham, manager of the Library's McClung Historical Collection. "But microfilm access to the papers is difficult and laborious. Once this collection is searchable and available remotely with an active library card, we expect its use to increase at least tenfold. We're grateful to the Foundation for taking this project on." 

The Library Foundation is working with Newsbank on this project. To demonstrate its potential, they digitzed two years of the paper. Currently, anyone can explore papers published in 1940 and 1982 by the Knoxville News Sentinel. Newsbank utilizes sophisticated digital technologies to transform difficult-to-use microfilm holdings into state-of-the-art online newspaper resources that are not only keyword-searchable but also contain every originial image - every photograph, illustration, cartoon, and display advertisement. 
“We are very pleased with the campaign so far,” noted Foundation chair, Ginna Mashburn. “We have had a wonderful response from people who have seen the two years (1940 and 1982) currently digitized. It is especially heartwarming to see people as their personal histories unfold before them. This archive will be a valuable resource for all of East Tennessee in opening the doors of history.” 

To learn more about the campaign or to donate, please visit, email, or call 865-215-8713.

A campaign brochure is available here.