To NDNP and Beyond!

By Eden Robins, ADNP project manager

                                        “Change is inevitable. Progress is optional.”                                                                       ~Tony Robbins

Dome Renovation

Once again I visited our nation’s capital to attend the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) awardee conference. This year, however, was a little different. As I arrived at my hotel, I saw that the capitol dome I had so admired during my last visit was surrounded by scaffolding; clearly in the midst of a major renovation. When I researched what was happening, I learned that the renovation was for the purpose of stopping the current level of deterioration in the dome’s cast iron. Doing so would protect and preserve the interior of the dome and the rotunda for the future.

During one of my walks around the city, I took a closer look and could still see the original dome beneath all of the scaffolding. It appeared strong and enduring, despite the work being done. As I noted this, I considered what renovations were being done and how that might change the dome. Would it look different, would it look exactly the same? Would it be stronger, better or more beautiful?

What’s going to happen is unknown, but regardless of this, I know one thing for certain. Change is on its way.

It was more than the dome, however, that was different this year. In addition to my regular conference, I attended a preconference entitled, Beyond NDNP, to discuss what states around the country were going to do once their digital newspaper grant work for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Library of Congress and Chronicling America had finished. For Arizona, that was coming up fast. At the end of 2014, Arizona’s funding to contribute newspaper content to the National Digital Newspaper Program would end.

Then what? How might things change? How would Arizona continue to document and preserve its history through digitized newspapers? Would things be completely different or look exactly the same? Would a program develop that was stronger, better or more comprehensive?

What’s going to happen is unknown, but regardless of this, I know one thing for certain:Change is on its way.

Beyond NDNP Forum

Beyond NDNP Forum 2014, rooftop of the Intercontinental Willard Hotel, Washington DC


And that’s exactly what the Beyond NDNP two day forum was all about. Nationwide, states creating these digital newspapers for public access were facing the same questions as Arizona, and trying to come up with solutions. So, in an effort to address change, transition and progress, about twenty five states met for the first time to discuss and think about how we might move forward together beyond the NDNP grant. In addition, representatives from organizations who understand the importance and historic relevance of the newspaper digitization work being done were there to offer their support.

The two day preconference meeting took place in the office complex of the historic Willard Intercontinental Hotel in DC, overlooking the National Mall. This hotel, which dates back to 1818 has seen everything from Charles Dickens staying there in 1842 (and again in 1887), the Peace Convention being held there in 1861, Franklin D Roosevelt’s inauguration there in 1937,  Martin Luther King, Jr. finishing his I Have a Dream speech while staying there in 1963, to the George Bush Sr. Inauguration in 1989.

Willard Intercontinental DC

Willard Intercontinental, Washington DC

Despite its long and historic heritage, this iconic landmark is now transformed into one of the most eco-friendly hotels in DC and was, in fact, the first hotel in the city to be 100% wind powered. In light of that, it seemed fitting that our Beyond NDNP group had our inaugural forum there.

What’s going to happen is unknown, but regardless of this, I know one thing for certain. Change is on its way.

 Just as I’m hopeful that the capitol dome will transition from its renovated state into something stronger and better, I too hope that our Beyond NDNP group will weather this change as the Willard Intercontinental  has done, emerging into an era of newspaper digitization, preservation and public access that becomes a force which is both enduring and innovative.