Rolfe Newspapers Project: I’ll tell you the good news last.


As you may already know, in 2010 the Rolfe Public Library board endorsed the project of having 101 years of Rolfe, Iowa, newspapers digitized by Heritage Microfilm (HM) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In a sense, we had vetted this company, including knowing that HM handled all the newspaper microfilming for the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI).

In early December 2010, the Rolfe Public Library paid to HM one-half of the Rolfe newspaper project cost. The plan was that the images (pages) — from 101 years of Rolfe newspapers — would be online and keyword-searchable.* This project was to be completed by March 2011.

In late February 2011 the library board received a letter from HM stating that HM had moved much of its operation to Mexico. Ok…not great…but there wasn’t anything we could do about “our” newspaper project being worked on outside of the United States.

We (the library board and I) still believed the project would be completed in a timely manner. However, after the company kept defaulting on deadline after deadline, with persistence on our end, the company refunded all that the library had paid (again, one-half of the total project cost).

We remained in good faith that the project would be completed and be a quality product…until up popped many, many red flags. For example, online there is a letter issued in June by SHSI saying that SHSI was transferring all of its microfilm from HM to Advantage Information Management Solutions in Cedar Rapids. Also, umpteen other libraries were having problems with HM. And, complaints were being filed with the Better Business Bureau and with the Iowa Attorney General’s office.

Fortunately the library board had its refund, so was not out any money. (To my knowledge, none of the other libraries in the same boat have received a refund.) After more vetting, including knowing that SHSI had transferred to Advantage, the library board voted to terminate its relationship with HM and, following in the footsteps of SHSI, transfer its project to Advantage.

How soon will this project be completed?

By two months from now (so, around November 1, 2011) the Rolfe Public Library should have a searchable hard drive that contains images of all the Rolfe newspaper issues that are on microfilm.**

Until sometime in January 2012, these digitial files may be browsed/searched only within the walls of the Rolfe Public Library and not online. The files will be accessible to patrons and to library staff.

When will the newspapers be online?

Sometime in January, the files will be online and accessible throughout the world.

Yes, we are having to wait months longer than originally planned. But, it will be worth it!

What is the bonus?

A bonus is that the book Centennial History, Rolfe, Iowa, 1863-1963 will be included in this project. In other words, you’ll be able to browse/search the contents of this book online.

All is well that ends well! When there’s more to report, including completion of the project, I’ll post about it. Upon project completion, there will also be information on the Rolfe Public Library web site regarding how to access the newspaper files online.

May a person still contribute?

*Thank you to those of you who contributed to the project via a cash donation or by purchasing one or more prints of Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolors. If you still want to contribute, you may do so by 1. writing a check payable to “Rolfe Public Library Trust” 2.) on the memo line write “newspaper project” and 3.) mail your check to Rolfe Public Library, 319 Garfield St., Rolfe, Iowa 50581. Contributions so far have ranged from $10 to $115 and all are greatly appreciated.

* * * * * * * *

**There can’t be a scan of any issue or page that isn’t already on microfilm, unless the hard copy of the newspaper is provided to Advantage.

Heritage Microfilm is associated with

(Click here to go to Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.)


3 Responses to “Rolfe Newspapers Project: I’ll tell you the good news last.”

  1. Peg Moore Says:

    WOW. That’s crazy (about HM)! SOOOOOO GRATEFUL the RPL has their refund money!!! 8-0 How heartbreaking for other libraries who might not! 😦

  2. Glenn Markley Says:

    Louise: It will be good to be able to access the papers on line, will make research much easier. Thanks, Glenn

  3. Marti Carlson Says:

    Louise, thanks for all your work on this project. What a wonderful bonus to have the Pocahontas Co. History available.

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