A survey was sent out recently asking which libraries in the Minuteman Library Network have microfilm/microfiche readers that patrons can use. I guess I’m just old fashioned but cannot imagine our library being without one. A lady the other day traveled to
As a true library geek in high school and college, I always loved going through the bound copies of the old Life, Time and Look magazines, lost in the stacks, so to speak. We still have a few magazines and newspapers bound here but we long ago lost the space to accommodate the “real” Norwood newspapers from 1888 on so we started having them microfilmed. Different staff members started indexing the newspaper on index cards in 1955 and it has been an ongoing project ever since. With the help of the Ernie Boch grant and part time work at the Reference Desk, we have been able to go back to the beginning and are now up to 1894! It is a tedious and time consuming job working with the microfilm on the computer but our indexer-in-chief, Shelby Warner, says she enjoys it.
As the microfilm machine is right next to the Reference Desk, we get to know some of the people using it. There have been many committed volunteers who have researched their local churches and schools, usually when preparing for a special anniversary, and have given us copies of the fruits of their labors. A really dedicated patron is writing a history of her church and has started with the microfilm from the beginning. She said she really enjoys it and will miss it when she finishes. She has researched local history through newspapers in
Before we moved back to our newly renovated library, Thomas Collins sat at an older, manual microfilm machine in a windowless room for hours compiling articles and obituaries of
Some representative memorable searches include:
-A grandfather looking up the newspaper article of his great play in a Norwood-Dedham High School Thanksgiving game in the ‘50s
-A woman with a ripped newspaper clipping of her parents’ wedding looking for the original picture for an anniversary celebration
-A lady in
-The Boy Scouts looking up the newspapers of their birth dates
For me, this is what makes a library a special place in the community—that it keeps available and accessible the history of the town and its citizens and the memories that they wish they had kept for themselves and their children.
We also have people who come from the military and schools using the reader because some records are on microfiche or microfilm and they do not have the equipment to read them. But overwhelmingly, much of the use of the microfilm reader is for looking up obituaries for genealogical purposes and weather stories because of automobile accident claims.
A woman called recently from a Boston foundation looking for a picture of Arthur Pingree, a minister at the Congregational Church in the 1920s, because she needs pictures of all the donors and he was one of them. We had old newspaper clippings with pictures and also articles on microfilm about him.
Some day, maybe our local newspapers on microfilm will be digitized and online. It would be a costly project. In the meantime, we are fortunate that recently we have been able to subscribe to the “Historical Boston Globe 1872-1979” an online database. This can be a great resource for
It’s a great time to be a researcher so come to our library and get lost in the microfilm of the old Norwood newspapers or go to the library’s website from home or in the library @ norwoodlibrary.org to access the “Historical Boston Globe 1872-1979” found under Databases for Research on the website.