With support from June and Ian Cockwell and Amarna, the de Vries Family Foundation and the Heritage Trust Fund, funds held at the Oakville Community Foundation, the Oakville Public Library (OPL) has recently digitized close to 500 late 20th century issues of the Oakville Beaver and made them available on the Library’s Newspaper Database. Through this digitization initiative, OPL provides yet another opportunity for community members to experience and engage with Oakville’s rich local history in a modern and accessible way.
Past issues of the Oakville Beaver, and its predecessor newspapers, are one of the few remaining sources of local history from the Town of Oakville, the Village of Bronte and Trafalgar Township. Local newspapers like the Oakville Beaver offer a rare and fascinating glimpse into the past, and are well-used by many Oakville residents including local historians, genealogists, students and community organizations.
Although the Library’s Newspaper Database is popular – it was accessed over 8,800 times in 2016 – prior to the digitization, many of the Oakville Beaver issues were of poor quality, and the Library routinely received requests for articles not available online.
As a result of the growing need for this type of digital resource in the community, the Library made thousands of pages from past Oakville Beaver issues available through the Database, which can be accessed for free with an OPL card. The newly digitized collection allows users to search articles using keywords, and the issues can also be read by screen readers, which is helpful for users with visual impairments.
“With digitally accessible issues of the Oakville Beaver now available on our Database, users can complete their research more efficiently and effectively,” says Elise C. Cole, Local Collections Librarian at the Oakville Public Library.
“This project places valuable information right into the hands of the researcher, whether that be a student completing a school project, a local historian collecting details for a book or a community member exploring his or her family history.”
It is the hope that this ongoing digitization effort will provide support for local community, local history, school curriculum and genealogical research.
Although the Oakville Public Library continues to evolve and look ahead, it is always respectful of the past, and confident in its ability to build community by connecting people and ideas. This initiative demonstrates the Library’s commitment to preserving Oakville’s treasured community heritage and collective memory.