Written by on September 1, 2017

Digitized student newspapers provide access to campus history

As a reporter for Mustang News, I find myself searching for previous editions rather frequently. At one point or another, I need to reference an old article in order to write about a current issue. Digitizing Mustang News has served as a huge help not only to journalism students, like myself, but also to the entire campus community.

The library’s Special Collections and Archives folks decided to digitize Mustang News in honor of the 100-years celebration. Digital Archivist Zach Vowell, Digital Repository Coordinator Michele Wyngard and student assistants scanned all the microfilm copies. Collectively, they scanned 75,000 pages! Vowell and his team image-processed each issue and ran them through Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which allows users to execute the Search function within any issue.

Overall, the team digitized 7,138 issues, which comes to more than 75 million words!

Archives are more accessible than ever before

With the help of new technologies, Mustang News is now publicly available to all Cal Poly students, faculty, staff, friends and alumni.All printed issues are fully digitized, so anyone can find exactly what they need with standard text searches.

Peer into the history of campus

You’ll notice that throughout the years, the editorial staff has changed the newspaper’s name.  It first began as The Polygram in 1916— the first issue was only four pages!

In 1940, it became The Polytechnic Californian. Between the years 1938 and 1967, the publication took on the name, “El Mustang.” During this time period, women re-gained acceptance to the temporarily all-men’s college. In 1967, the newspaper transitioned to Mustang Daily for the next 46 years. Under Mustang Daily, “Weird Al,” Al Yankovic’s “My Bologna” chart-topping success was first recorded. Since 2013, the student-run publication has been called Mustang News (2013-present).

Learn about the evolution of campus

While perusing the archives, I also stumbled upon some pretty large Cal Poly milestones, including the grand opening of Kennedy Library in 1981, which detailed the heroic efforts of former ASI president Student Body President Ole Meland.

Did you know that the library used to be located in the Walter F. Dexter Building? It was built to accommodate a campus of 6,600 students in 1948. Today, Kennedy Library serves just over 21,000 undergraduates!

It wasn’t until 1981 that Kennedy Library formally opened its doors to visitors. Now, it stands five floors tall and offers many resources students need for success. If you’re sifting through articles in the 1980s, you’ll find that the library policy employed a “no snacking” rule. A 1984 article reported that a guard would actually police students for crunching on snacks while studying.

You’ll also find the evolution and construction of new campus structures in the archives, like the grand openings of the Sports Complex in 1993 and the Performing Arts Center in 1996. It’s crazy to think that that building is just as old as I am!

If you’re interested in checking out previous editions of the Mustang News, go online to http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/studentnewspaper/ or visit the Archives in person in building 35 room 409.

You can visit the archives from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday during the school year. To make an appointment, call (805)756-2305.

To read more about the “100 Years of Delivering the News” exhibit hosted by Kennedy Library, click here.