Newspaper archives out of storage
Publication Date: Friday Jul 22, 1994

COMMUNITY: Newspaper archives out of storage

City will distribute Times Tribune files to historical groups

The Palo Alto City Council has agreed on a plan to distribute the large collection of newspaper clippings, photographs, microfilm and other items the city acquired when the Peninsula Times Tribune went out of business in March 1993.

The collection, contained in 39 file cabinets and 69 boxes of clippings, will be sorted, and materials primarily relating to the Palo Alto area will be absorbed into the collection of the Palo Alto Historical Association.

Materials relating to other Peninsula communities the newspaper covered will be distributed to historical organizations in those areas, such as the San Mateo County Historical Organization, which is interested in obtaining material related to Redwood City. The Times Tribune was formed in 1979 when the Redwood City Tribune and the Palo Alto Times were merged.

The sorting and distribution, to be managed by two professional librarians knowledgeable about local history, will cost the city $6,000. The bulk of the collection dates from the 1960s and later and is at least 70 percent non-local. Thus, much of the local material is hidden, according a report by Mary Jo Levy, Palo Alto's director of libraries.

Some Council members were concerned that dividing the collection among too many groups would weaken its usefulness. But maintaining the collection as a stand-alone reference library requiring a permanent location and ongoing support for access and maintenance was deemed to be too expensive. Further, no organization has a collection that encompasses the breadth of regional material the Times Tribune covered.

After the daily newspaper closed, the collection sat in a warehouse and then was moved to a vacant room at the Cubberly Community Center, where the files were reviewed and inventoried. When that room was rented, the collection was moved again last month to the Downtown Library.

All the while, the collection has been inaccessible to the public, historical organizations, other media, and former employees of the Times Tribune, who were denied access to their byline files when the Tribune Company of Chicago hastily shut down the paper, dismissed employees and locked the building.

--Peter Gauvin 

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