Whether you're looking for family history, an article from the past or just browsing, Niles newspapers from 1908 to 2009 are now available through the McKinley Memorial Library website, www.mckinley.lib.oh. us.
''We began this project last summer,'' said library director Patrick Finan. ''I got the idea after we started receiving a lot of calls from people from out of town asking for stuff. With the old system of storing everything on microfilm, it was difficult to find things.''
In addition to the tedious process of locating information on microfilm, Finan said it became more difficult to repair the microfilm readers due to lack of parts. Library staff also didn't have time to search for items requested from out of town, Finan said, especially if someone didn't know the exact date that an article may have been published.
Michelle Martin, left, and library director Patrick Finan search the Niles newspapers database now available on the library website. Issues from the Niles newspaper from 1908 to 2009 are available to read online as well as searches using keywords.
''We usually get two to three people a week looking for information,'' said librarian Theresa Martin. ''It picks up more in the summer when people are in town from out of state to work on genealogy.''
Local newspapers have always been available to residents of Niles and the surrounding areas of McDonald, Mineral Ridge and Weathersfield Township. Newspapers on file include the Niles Evening Register, the Niles Standard, The Niles Daily News and the Niles Daily Times. More recently The weekly publication, The Niles Times, has been a part of the community since 1994.
Finan said since the digital online issues, it has been much easier to help patrons who call from out of the area.
''I had somebody call from England looking for contact information,'' Finan said. ''I shot them a link to what I found and they were so happy.''
Martin said just last year a library patron spent several hours searching for something on microfilm.
''Now it's just zip, zip, zip and it's there,'' Finan said.
Sometimes students from local schools will have assignments that include looking for news items that occurred on the day they were born, Finan said. With computer access to the newspapers online, it is so much easier for them, he said.
After searching the Internet for a company to do the job, Finan said he settled on a company from Iowa called Advantage. The library sends the microfilm to the company and the company also hosts the site. Digitizing the microfilm usually takes about six months, Finan said, after which the company returns the microfilm to the library where it will be stored. The library also receives the information stored in a separate hard drive should they make the decision to host the site themselves.
There is no time limit on the use of the information and anyone can access the newspapers. A library card is not required, Finan said.
To access the newspapers through the library website, go to the library homepage and click on Niles Newspapers.