Boise Library users now have access to all Idaho Statesman content — from 1864 to today

·2 min read
Sarah A. Miller/smiller@idahostatesman.com

Boise Public Library card holders can now look back through big events in Idaho’s history via access to the Idaho Statesman’s complete digital archive.

Either by visiting a Boise Public Library location or using a Boise library account to access the website, users can view all of the Statesman’s content — from 1864 to today.

“The Statesman has been the newspaper of record for the Boise area,” Kathy Stalder, acquisitions and technical services senior manager for the Boise Public Library, told the Statesman in a phone interview. “It’s actually one of our highest-used resources as digital resources. Last year, we had over 187,000 searches that were done in it and that blows away a lot of our other resources.”

Boise City Council received and approved a funding request from the library of $123,000 — to be paid to the database Newsbank — with the goal of acquiring perpetual access to the digitized Idaho Statesman from 1989-98 to complete the archive. Those years had already been made available by Newsbank on a trial basis.

“It’s been a really long time of us struggling to make sure that we get enough money to pay, and it has been fantastic that the City Council has acknowledged the fact that the community really heavily uses this resource,” Stalder said.

It was only recently, in September 2021, that the library purchased access to years 1976 through 1988. At that time, Newsbank offered access to ‘89-’98 with the understanding that someday the library would finish paying for it. The contract for that is being finalized, Stalder said.

“There wasn’t a contract in place, there was no guarantee that we would finish paying for it,” Stalder said. “So it was sort of a courtesy on their part that they opened up that access to us on a trial basis.”

Before then, the library partially relied on its microfilm collection of the Statesman. With the slow degradation of the microfilms and the difficulty that comes with searching on a nondigital format, officials said they knew that acquiring the complete digital archive was vital.

“During the pandemic, we really realized that not having access to the full stretch digitally was a huge impact on our community,” Stalder said. “So having the ability to do a digital search, and be able to keyword search, is really meaningful to a lot of our communities.”

For those who choose to view the Statesman archive in the library’s downtown location on Capitol Boulevard, one of the computers on the third floor is set aside strictly for database research, set up to display the Statesman archive.

The library also offers access to other digital archives, such as The New York Times and National Geographic.

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