The project Ethnic and Special Audience Newspapers of the Pacific Northwest: A Multimedia Bibliography proposes to develop an image and text based annotated bibliography of ethnic and special audience newspapers published from the late 19th century to the present. Development of the database will provide unprecedented access to multicultural primary source material, allow for fresh, technologically based approaches to this material in the classroom, and open up new areas of research for both the scholar and the general public. The project is designed to serve as a model to demonstrate the feasibility of establishing efficient, economical, library-based microfilm digitizing projects. The project builds on several national initiatives that will advance our understanding of digital imaging technology, as well as our abilities to fully utilize the benefits of an electronic environment.

Ethnic, alternative, minority or marginalized communities have long turned to the published word as a means of building identity, promulgating viewpoints and establishing some control over the development and dissemination of their own media images. Ethnic and other non-mainstream newspapers are treasured primary sources reflecting the diversity, vigor and strife typical of any multicultural society. Yet these materials have been neglected by traditional institutions, standards and policies, These materials remain outside the mainstream of preservation and access, in exactly the same way that the communities and points of view were and are outside the mainstream. As the impetus toward multicultural teaching and research builds, teachers and scholars have tried to incorporate these diverse materials into curriculum and research projects. But the difficulties of access, of even identifying promising sources, are great-due in part to the ephemeral nature of the materials themselves, but also due to standard cataloging practices, limitations inherent to print formats, shortcomings of collection development policies and difficulties in communication between traditional and nontraditional organizations.

Appropriate and innovative uses of technology provide means to overcome many of the problems mentioned above. Development of a web-based, multimedia resource opens up visual and textual access to materials traditionally available only at very large research libraries. This project will provide selected scanned images from each newspaper included; in one or two instances, entire runs of newspapers will be scanned. Testing of optical character recognition (OCR) from digitized microfilm will also be a part of the project. Each bibliographic entry will be structured according to the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set with additional, customized features, thus moving the traditional flat cataloging record to a much more dynamic, multi-layered record. The entire database will be accessed through software developed to search on many access points across a variety of formats-including text, image and sound. This project will create a new kind of resource, very rich in content, designed to support scholarly research and classroom learning in multicultural subjects. Both historical and contemporary, Ethnic and Special Audience Newspapers of the Pacific Northwest: A Multimedia Bibliography communicates the same vigor found in the source materials themselves.