Louise Gunderson Shimon wrote a very informative piece that outlines the challenges and frustration that Rolfe Public Library faced in trying to get 101 years of their history digitized and available online.

The article is a “must read” for Iowa libraries and publishers when considering their preservation and accessibility strategies, as well as vendors to partner with:

From the article:

We remained in good faith that the project would be completed and be a quality product…until up popped many, many red flags. For example, online there is a letter issued in June by SHSI saying that SHSI was transferring all of its microfilm from HM to Advantage Information Management Solutions in Cedar Rapids. Also, umpteen other libraries were having problems with HM. And, complaints were being filed with the Better Business Bureau and with the Iowa Attorney General’s office.

Fortunately the library board had its refund, so was not out any money. (To my knowledge, none of the other libraries in the same boat have received a refund.) After more vetting, including knowing that SHSI had transferred to Advantage, the library board voted to terminate its relationship with HM and, following in the footsteps of SHSI, transfer its project to Advantage.

Advantage Preservation took personal interest in this project for many different reasons. First and foremost, we are an Iowa company, and Iowa history is more than just a “job” for us. We believe we have a responsibility to take an active role in the preservation Iowa’s newspapers and accessibility to the content they contain. We were glad that we were invited in to assist, and look forward to working with Rolfe on future projects.