Creating the Lines & Letters Archive

At the start of the archiving process, 15+ years of back issues of the Lines and Letters online newsletter were scattered across 4 or 5 iterations of the Chapter’s website.

This had worked fine for a while, but our web server was not meant to host several interrelated websites, even if they were small, and our live site was starting to throw errors. As Webmaster I knew the issue needed to be addressed. (Let me say that I’m extremely grateful to my Associate Webmaster Jennifer Loudiana, who maintained the live site so I could focus solely on archiving. Couldn’t have done it without her!)

First, I created an MS Word template for the archived issues and got approval from Chapter leadership, especially the Newsletter Committee. When converted to PDFs, the issues would be full-text searchable, providing equivalent access to the online versions; they’d also print nicely if hard copies were needed.

Around 120 back issues needed to be archived, so I made a progress chart with columns for the statuses that each one needed to move through: Located; Copy/Pasted into Notepad; Copy/Pasted into the Word Template; Images Transferred; Formatting Completed; PDF Created; PDF Uploaded to the Current WordPress Site.

Next, I created a new page on the website for “Newsletter Archive” with anchor text for each PDF that would be created (Month/Year).

Now I was ready to actually begin archiving.

About half a dozen issues from long ago that had already been published as PDFs, so I simply moved these files to our new site – I did not convert them to the new template, out of respect for history and for the Editors who had created that format when we were still snail-mailing paper copies.

I then worked backwards through the list, from recent issues to the oldest ones. As each document was completed, I PDFed it and uploaded it to the WordPress site, linking it to its anchor text on the Archive page and tracking my progress on the status chart, until at last the chart was completely filled in and all the back Issues I could find were uploaded. Success!

Throughout the process, my overarching impression was of the sheer creativity and productivity of the members of NEO STC: dozens of articles on topics that were often ahead of their time; untold effort that was spent collecting, curating, and coordinating content in Lines and Letters; valuable information that met some needs in my current job even years after it was published! I was just in awe of the strength and wisdom and largesse of our Newsletter Committee and the many Editors, Co-Editors, and Associate Editors who’ve served for the past 17 years. Lines and Letters is an amazing body of work! I am grateful for the opportunity to have created the archive and serve our members by making old issues more available. (But I’m also glad it’s finished now – whew!)

If other STC Chapters and SIGs need to manage old newsletters, they can easily adapt our process and template to suit their own situations and content. The longer you wait, the more there is to do and the more difficult it becomes. It can be a huge undertaking, but “now” is always a good time to start.

By Kim Lindsey