Apex: Digitizing Newspapers Past to Provide a Philosophical Worldview

Article ImageBy sharing cultural history, the countries of the world can come to a better mutual understanding through the digitization of historical newspapers. That's the idea behind Apex CoVantage's creation of the Apex Advisory Board for its Global Newspaper Initiative. The purpose of the advisory board is to bring together experts, literaries, and leaders who share the aspirations for the global newspaper. The first advisory board meeting was held on August 22 in Seoul, Korea, during the IFLA World Library and Information Congress.

Starting with the 18th century and continuing to the 21st, Apex, a Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) company, has digitized millions of newspapers for national and academic research libraries, local historical societies, newspaper publishers, and commercial clients. Dr. Shashikant Gupta, president of Apex CoVantage and organizer of the Apex Advisory Board says, "Our aim is to make available the past issues of the billions of old newspapers that represent what people in various cultures think and feel about a certain topic or issue." This is then compared to other points of view and perspectives from other sources. "Our approach is philosophical. People develop negative feelings toward cultures and other people without knowing exactly what they are thinking. We want to give them a way to look into other minds and understand those views," he adds.

With digital technology rapidly growing, actions are underway for accessing vast numbers of newspapers from all over the world. "We look forward with great excitement to where the path will lead," says Gupta. "I strongly believe that the world community will ultimately benefit from the deeper level of mutual understanding that will come from opening historic newspapers from every culture to anyone in the world with access to the internet."

The organization was formed with the belief that many benefits can be achieved by creating a digital archive of newspapers, journals, and other historic documents. For example, users can receive and deliver information directly, regardless of their location. They will have access to rare and fragile collections, and the image quality of original documents will be enhanced, adding to the cultural experience of searching, referencing, and indexing. The digitization process will let users view, search, and print articles and photos as they appeared years ago.

With its commitment to the preservation of newspapers, Apex has added to its website a new section, which is devoted to the task of digitizing and maintaining historical newspapers. Apex has met some resistance from many governments, libraries, and universities that want to maintain control of their collections to share with scholars, leaders, and students. Because original newspapers can be damaged and discolored, Apex hopes to help maintain the quality of these archives by using technology such as the Intelligent Zoning and Algorithmic Conversion (IZAAC).

To guarantee the quality of the data, Apex recently released ProQual, a web-based quality assurance tool for image-based archival newspaper databases. It gives the archival collection owners control over the quality of their electronic databases. "Our digitization solutions are all designed to solve the problems inherent to the process of digitizing newspapers and other documents," says Drew Pipkin, president of Apex CoVantage Publishing Solutions. "Our clients are now able to maintain critical control over the integrity of their data."

Due to its recent formation, not many members have joined the advisory board list yet, but those who have are generally from the newspaper industry or are high-ranking businesspeople, scholars, and experts. Given its grand scope, the project does not yet have a set date for the release of its database. Gupta says, "It's a long-term project and could take up to five to ten years in the making."

Newspapers are considered one of the purest forms of communication for both world-impacting and everyday events; thus Apex believes that the creation of a high-quality virtual library of important national, regional, local, and international newspapers will help develop greater understanding throughout the world. "Our goal is an excellent example of how a business can go well beyond its regular task and power to do something that affects us. And if we have to take this philosophical approach to foster it, then so be it," says Gupta.