The Jefferson Public Library is currently converting microfilm containing newspapers from 1866 -1977 into a digital, online format.
You can read more about it here:
Jefferson Library Director Jane Millard says that this project has been in the works for a long time and one of the hang-ups from getting it off the ground was finding a company to do the conversion. The contract was signed with The Advantage Companies in Cedar Rapids at the Board of Trustees meeting in November. Millard says the reason why they went with Advantage was because they already had a copy of their microfilm in their vault and so it was just a matter of getting the paperwork filled out and the contract signed.
Many online archives that are commissioned by libraries choose to only include content up to 1924. This is because content published earlier than 1924 is in the public domain. However, with proper research, some libraries are able to make titles available up to 1977.
In 1978 newspapers started to be copyrighted to the editors. For more recent content to be added to the archive, the library must secure so additional agreements with the newspaper publisher.
Advantage Preservation requires a letter of permission from the newspaper publisher for any content after 1924 to be added to an archive they host. If the library has researched the copyright status, and it can be verified by Advantage, content through 1977 may be available. This mostly comes into play when a publisher has ceased publication, or the rights holder cannot be identified.
If Advantage has a signed agreement from the publisher, content published after 1977 can be included so once the library finishes the initial scanning of the microfilm up through 1977, Millard will be in contact with the editors of the local newspapers to get the other years converted.