Newspaper Digitization

The Digital Heritage Center has a variety of services related to digitizing and hosting North Carolina newspapers online. Current and potential partners can make a request by contacting us at any time to see which service best fits their needs. Some services are offered at no cost but have limited capacity. Others are for-fee services with higher capacity.

For all of the services listed below, the ongoing cost of hosting the newspapers on DigitalNC.org (which includes hardware, software, storage, web design, and ongoing site care and maintenance) is covered by the State Library of North Carolina and the UNC-Chapel Hill University Libraries.

We accept requests from organizations that are eligible to work with us. If you have questions please contact us.

No Cost to Partners

Newspapers in PrintMicrofilmed NewspapersNewspapers Already Digitized by External Organization
Cost to Partner Per Single Page ImageNoneNoneSee note*
TimingRequests accepted on an ongoing basisTitles are chosen via nomination process once annually, typically in late summer (announced via social media)Requests accepted on an ongoing basis
Maximum Number of PagesCity/town papers: 500 page limit per batch; for other types of papers maximum is decided based on our capacity and the uniqueness of the paper’s contentAround 5000-8000 pages per nominationNo maximum
Where ScannedIn houseVendorScans provided by partner
Where Do We Get the Papers We Scan?Borrowed from the partner organization that requests the scanningEither borrowed from the collections at UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries or from the partner organization that requests the scanningScans are provided by the partner

*We may be able to work with scans provided to us by external organizations. These are often created by a vendor from print or microfilm.

Quality: We are only able to accept the images if they meet our minimum quality requirements.

Cost: Because there are frequently a large number of images in these types of situations, adding the newspaper to DigitalNC may require the partner organization to take on creating the newspaper metadata.

Timeline: If the scans are provided in this way, depending on the number of images and the capacity of the partner organization to create the needed metadata the timeline for getting the newspaper online may be long.

For-Fee Services

Newspapers in PrintMicrofilmed Newspapers
Cost to Partner Per Single Page Image$0.99$0.25**
TimingRequests accepted on an ongoing basisRequests accepted on an ongoing basis
Maximum Number of PagesNo maximumNo maximum
Where ScannedVendorVendor
Where Do We Get the Papers We Scan?Borrowed from the partner organization that requests the scanningEither borrowed from the collections at UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries or from the partner organization that requests the scanning

** Though the number of pages on each reel can vary widely, we recommend an estimate of 1000-1200 pages per full microfilm reel.

Organizations Supporting Newspaper Digitization with the Digital Heritage Center

Our Partners

Our partners have collected, housed, and preserved these newspapers over the years. They provide microfilm reels and print newspapers for digitization, driving them to Chapel Hill or paying for them to be shipped to us.  Several partners have provided funding for newspaper digitization of certain titles so more work can be completed than we are able to do at no cost to them. Those funds come from their own budgets, local friends groups, and/or donors.

State Library of North Carolina

A large portion of the funding that supports the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and is provided thanks to the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds are disbursed by the State Library of North Carolina. By supporting the Digital Heritage Center, the State Library leverages a centralized location to be able to do more work with newspapers than might otherwise be possible. 

Elizabeth City State University

Elizabeth City State University is home to our first satellite scanning location. Staff at the Library scan and describe print newspapers for partners.

State Archives of North Carolina

The State Archives of North Carolina has a long history of preserving the state’s newspapers and imaging them in film and digital formats. In 2019, we worked with the State Archives to add 5,435 issues of North Carolina’s earliest newspapers to DigitalNC.  In addition, the majority of newspapers digitized from microfilm on DigitalNC have been captured from film created throughout the years by staff at the State Archives of North Carolina. 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

From 2012-2020, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries was the state’s awardee for the Library of Congress’ National Digital Newspaper Program. The issues that were digitized for that program have been added to DigitalNC. In 2021-2022, we added over 2 million additional newspaper images that had previously been created in a partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries and Newspapers.com. UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries allows us to borrow microfilm reels from their collection on a regular basis to send away for digitization on our partners’ behalf.  Finally, staff at UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries support the hardware and software that provides access to newspapers, including ongoing maintenance and regular improvements.

North Caroliniana Society

In 2020-2023, the North Caroliniana Society provided funding for thousands of additional newspaper images to be added to DigitalNC. This funding supported vendor digitization of microfilm as well as staff to work on adding digitized newspapers to DigitalNC.

Updated December 2022