Microfilm conversions can help library patrons get in touch with the past

October 24th, 2013 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Uncategorized

All too often, people looking for documents and records buried in the annals of history face an uphill battle. Public libraries offer an important service in this regard, as their archives may hold many of the answers for which inquisitive citizens are searching. However, even after jumping this hurdle, patrons are often faced with another issue – the problem of access.

At many libraries, old copies of local newspapers can be found in the institutions' microfilm collections. These types of record caches require a microfilm reader – and a lot of patience – to sift through, especially in instances when the people seeking answers don't have a specific date from which to start. For many entities, microfilm conversions are proving to be the antidote to this stumbling block – provided, of course, libraries can secure the funding necessary to implement such an upgrade.

Manitoba library seeks funding for microfilm conversion
The Thompson Public Library in the Canadian province of Manitoba is one such institution that is eager to secure money for this purpose. According to The Thompson Citizen, library administrator Cheryl Davies recently sent a letter to the city council requesting a financial contribution of $6,020 to help the library digitize its microfilm collection – and save curious patrons a considerable amount of time by streamlining their searches in the process.

"Although … answers can be found by searching the reels of microfilm at the Thompson Public Library, it would be much easier if one could simply search computer documents reaching back to 1960," Davies wrote in her letter, as quoted by the media outlet. "Although Thompson's history does not fall into the 'hundreds of years old' category, this community can be so much richer when it has the ability to reflect on the tangible presence of past times."

Speaking with the news source, Davies expanded on the motivation behind her request.

"When we reach a certain year we have to go out and pull out the boxed copies," she told The Citizen, speaking about the library's current process. "We can take it and we can make it searchable. Once it's all digitized, the library itself can continue to scan the newer ones."

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