Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm.....CLERICAL MAN!!!!!

Part 2 of the Library Chronicles
Yes, Clerical Man. Champion of the oppressed, Righter of Wrong, and Defender of non-P.C. values!


Anyways, the first order of business was to inspect microfilm. At that meant using the microfilm machine, which was located on the seventh floor. Now, because of the peculiar design of the room (sunroof), it was virtually impossible to make the room dark enough to view the film properly.

So I did what any enterprising person straight from the real world would do in this particular situation: I solved the problem. Searching the room, I found about a half dozen old manila file folders and a roll of masking tape. After about twenty minutes or so of positioning the folders, taping and trying to make the area as dark as possible (the better to fall asleep in), I had my own little private Idaho.


So off to inspecting I went. I took detailed notes as I merrily cranked away, looking for scratches, redundancies and other assorted gobbledygook as I tried to fight off the heaviness of my eyelids. Gang, let me tell you, if you have problems sleeping, looking at microfilm is the best cure for what ails ya. Better than anything else that you could possibly imagine to help you fall asleep.

After a couple of hours spent reading about the 19th century, and specifically about Deep River CT, I was ready to curl up on the nice large wooden (oak?) table, stare up at the sunroof and take a long, long nap.

By then, my boss reappeared and decided to take me back down to the Preservation Dept., to show me the other 'wonderful' things she had in store for me.

Once there, I got introduced to world of computers, word documents, databases and other assorted clerical schtuff. "Big deal." you're probably saying to yourself. Well to me it was, as from 1983 to 1996, I had about 2% contact with a computer on barely a monthly basis. So I was clueless as to using a computer, e-mail, Word, Excel, FoxPro, and assorted goodies.

In any event, I got a crash course in all of the aforementioned items. I had baptism by fire in all of this schtuff. No user guides, no tutorials, nothing. Just trial and error, along with later picking a co-workers brain, got me the experience I needed.

Since I was the lone clerical person for about five or six months, I had everything dumped on me. Inspecting film? Yup. Number crunching as to figure out page counts so as to program microfilm? You betcha. Writing letters to libraries and historical societies, begging them to lend us their precious items so as to record them for posterity? Without a doubt. Becoming bored as all get out from doing this schtuff? Absolutely.

So after getting a crash course in doing the clerical aspect of this adventure, it was time to turn to the other major component of my job...

wait for it.

Yes, it was time to slice, dice, julienne, french fried, chopped, puree,d mince, wholesale wanton dismembering and disemboweling, our friend the almighty newspaper.

Up next: Deconstructing and Decommissioning.


  1. That must have been a true shock to the system! Like those deep jungle natives exposed to stairs for the first time! lol.

    Glad you got a handle on it all.

  2. The things we do to earn our daily bread.

  3. You were smart to make a blind from the folders, I probably would've just draped a dark towel over me and sat there looking like some kind of druid.

    Professional question... When do you think all microfilm will disappear, if ever?

  4. Hmmm...let me see if I can answer that in two different ways.

    As physical product, in the right temperature controlled settings, a roll of microfilm should last about 100 years or so.

    As a viable source of research material, I think it will always be there.

    A lot of libraries and the like are now going digital with ther records, but for the most part, microfilm (and to lesser degree, microfiche) will be the best bang for the buck as research materials.

    Newspapers deteriorate over time, leaving highly unmanageable to use. Microfilming lets a larger segment of society do their research properly, safely and more effectively. Additionally, with microfilm, you can do an interlibrary loan with it, so that if you're living, say on the West Coast, and you find something out in a newspaper that is on film in the East, instead of traveling East, you can request a loan of it through your library.

    Most of your major newspapers produce their stuff on microfilm. New York Times does it, and my local paper the Hartford Courant does it (they put all 7 of their regional editions on the film).

    (steps down off the soapbox).

  5. wow..microfilm! I worked at a campus library for some time when I went to grad school. I remember being in charge of the microfilm one evening and my god I had no clue what I was doing. That was like my most hated job.

    Isn't it something that we lived during a time when we didn't do the computer thing? I still remember card catalogs. boy I am old!

  6. I remember the old Dewey decimal system. It's still my second perferred way of searching for books at the library, (first is actually going through the stacks).

    As for the computer thing, prior to using a computer at the library in '96, my last hardcore contact with one was in high school, using the old Tandy computer.

    I think life was so much easier back then, when we didn't really have much contact with the computer.

    And no, you're not old. You're just comfortably young, just like me.

  7. I had no idea it was still "the stuff!"

    BTW, I collected the mail last night and the letter I'd sent to your P.O. box came back . (Will put stamp on to re-send.) Duh, have much on your holiday mind, Jannie?

  8. Sorry to hear that you forgot to put a stamp on the envelope.

    I've forgotten to put checks in the mail occasionally, so I know how you feel.

    I'm sure once the holidays pass you'll be back to your normal self again.

  9. I had a temp job once where I got to assist the media liaison for a state minister - I got a weird kind of kindergarten satisfaction with cutting out the newspaper articles; gluing them to sheets of paper; photocopying them 5 times and then highlighting certain ones. Though I started regressing in other parts of my working life: drawing pictures on my transitional cardboard recycling box and cutting out paper dolls. It was a very odd feeling to be paid money to cut up newspapers.

  10. Trust me, it gets better. If thought what I did as of this post was strange, wait until I get further into my state career.

    This is what I did for a living from 1996-2002.

  11. Now I know how to cure those sleepless nights! Your job sounds really interesting. I remember in college dealing with microfilms. I remember being confused mostly.

  12. Early on, the only thing I remembered about microfilm was that it really put me to sleep.

    Back then, I was going through one of many periods of not having my diabetes under control (I know, shame on me).

    Inspecting microfilm, combined with a high sugar, equals frequent napping.

  13. I can relate to that boredom -- I do freelance proofreading work for a place that sends me 40-page annual reports every year. And as I read them, with my eyes glazing over, I often find myself wondering, "who in the world would actually sit down and READ one of these things??" I'll tell you who -- no one but the proofreader. Well, and possibly insomniacs... :)

  14. I tried reading one of those once.


    In any event, that does sound particular brutal. Just about equals inspect microfilm.

    This actually wasn't so bad as I was using an old hand crank machine. It was much worse with the automatic one.

    Thanks for stopping by.


Go on, give me your best shot. I can take it. If I couldn't, I wouldn't have created this wonderful little blog that you decided to grace with your presence today.

About that comment moderation thingy: While yes, it does say up above I can take it, I only use it to prevent the occasional miscreant from leaving thoughtless and/or clueless comments.

So remember, all of your comments are greatly appreciated and all answers will be given that personal touch that you come to expect and enjoy.

G. B. Miller

The Legal Disclaimer

All the content that you see here, except for the posting of links that refer to other off-blog stories, is (c) 2008-17 by G.B. Miller. Nothing in whole or in part may be used without the express written permission of myself. If you wish to use any part of what you see here, please contact me at