RE Magazine, NRECA’s flagship publication, has published its full archive online, offering easy access to national electric cooperative history since the beginning.
Until the archive’s official launch this month, digital editions only went back to 2010. Now, the rest of the magazines are available back to the first issue of the “NRECA Bulletin” in February 1944.
Tens of thousands of co-op stories, photos and graphics from nearly 1,000 issues of the magazine are now searchable in high-resolution PDFs.
“Just scanning all the magazine covers is absolutely fascinating,” said Scot Hoffman, editor of RE Magazine. “Once you start browsing the old issues and searching on terms, it gets kind of addictive.
“As the national association, NRECA should be the keeper of U.S. electric co-op history. This archive essentially fulfills that in one fell swoop.”
The RE Magazine archive project was an ambitious, months-long undertaking. HudsonYards Studios, a production house owned by LSC Communications, collected the full archive of bound print volumes, disassembled them at their North Carolina facility and scanned some 50,000 pages using optical character recognition software.
NRECA Digital Products and Analytics Manager Michael Lynch researched digital archive best practices and worked with the association’s web development team to build the site and search functions and upload all the files.
“The big thing was to make the archive easily searchable,” Lynch said. “That’s what unlocks its value. We managed to make the search function not only very accurate but super-fast.”
The archive is part of a broader NRECA strategy to improve the resources and useability of cooperative.com.
“We’ve been working for the past few years to be more strategic about what gets added to cooperative.com and to improve the organization and relevance of the search function,” said Jessica O’Neal, NRECA senior director of digital strategy. “This archive checks all the boxes for being useful, relevant and searchable. It’s a great resource.”
Hoffman said creating the archive has been a goal of his for years.
“It’s one of those projects that can easily get bumped when other priorities come along,” he said. “The impact of the pandemic, with folks not being in the office as much and expecting to be able to find more things online, helped us get this over the finish line.”
The archive is located in the RE Magazine section of cooperative.com. Nearly all issues are in front of the firewall and accessible by all; only the most recent five years are locked for subscribers only.
“RE Magazine is a pay publication, so we need to preserve that value,” O’Neal said. “But we also want this to be a resource for the entire membership to have at their fingertips.”