FARMINGTON — The doors to The Daily Times are more open to the community than ever.

The county's newspaper of record held a grand opening and ribbon cutting Thursday evening for its new community center, a place where the public and the newspaper staff can better interact.

"This is a great project that you have taken on," said Jeff Smith, president of the Farmington Chamber of Commerce Red Coats.

The center offers a seating area, a television, a small library of books and magazines, and six computers with wireless Internet access and digital archives dating back to 1901. A printer also will be available for use at no charge.

"It's pretty neat," said rancher Tommy Bolack. "I'm doing a history book about the sheriff's office, so I've been using it quite a bit."

The archives have been a work in progress for the past five or so years, an undertaking of San Juan College Library Director Chris Schipper.

"We had to ship all our (microfilm) reels back to the Midwest," Schipper said. "Some of the content was unique, so we were really nervous about sending it off."

Over the years, the college library has digitalized a growing collection of the newspaper's archives, though the collection was not available anywhere else but the campus.

The digital archives now can be found at The Daily Times Community Center, as well as the Aztec and Bloomfield public libraries.

"I think this will be great," said Jim Baker, president of Navajo Ministries.


"Our 60th anniversary is coming up, so I thought it'd be fun to check out the paper when we first started out."

The center also could bring about further dialogue between the newspaper's audience and staff. Community workshops and discussions already are planned for the center in hopes that the public will engage in the goings on of the newspaper.

"What we print in our newspapers today is our history tomorrow," said John Elchert, publisher of The Daily Times.

The community center will be open to the public during business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays.