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The Library of Congress is redesigning its Chronicling America website, its online archive of 3.3 million newspaper pages. The archives include newspapers from 1860 to 1922 from the following states: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

The most obvious change is the edition of a 100 Years Ago Today feature, that lets you scroll through the front pages of century-old newspapers. The new site has a much better layout, greatly improving the user experience. But the redesign also adds some cool technology on the backend as well, letting you pan and zoom into the newspaper pages. Search and share are also much easier in this new version.

It's worth pointing out, I think, that digital archives aren't merely online storage facilities -- some giant shoebox in the cloud where we throw stuff that's important and that we want to keep for later. Archives are about collection, organization, and access. It's good to see the LOC working to address the latter.

The updated newspaper archives site is still in beta, so the LOC welcomes your feedback.

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Audrey Watters


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