Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Prepping Newspapers For The Runway (part 1)

Part 5 of The Library Chronicles
So after getting rid of the glue, string, binding and other assorted pieces of debris off the newspaper and turning it into a larger stack of unbound, musty, loose newspaper pages, I was ready to move on to the next step.

Prepping the newspaper for microfilming.

Warning: What I'm about to describe is not, repeat, not for the faint of heart. This should not be read if you're even the teeny bit tired. This should be read during the day, on a empty stomach, when you're full of energy. Seriously, what I'm about to describe to you, will make watching synchronized swimming seem thrilling and suspenseful.

I brought my fifteen+ pounds of newspaper over to my work area and proceeded to execute what 75% of my job duties were for the first four years of career. These steps were deviated from only when the condition of the newspaper required it.

I completely forgot to mention what I did prior to arriving what I'm about to cover in this post, so I will now devote a few words to that particular topic.

Prior to the decommissioning and destroying of a typical volume of newspaper, I did the microfilm programming of said volume. This entailed taking out a calendar for the date range of the newspaper (we had calendars covering 1790 through 1990) and reading the first issue in said volume. To be precise, I read the front page (masthead) and the second page (publisher's statement) to determine the frequency of publication. Once that was determined (daily, weekly, bi-weekly, tri-weekly, daily plus saturday, daily plus sunday), it was the matter of marking on the calendar what days the newspaper published on. More on the calendar issue later.

Anyways, back to the newspaper. Once I brought it back to my work area, I got out the various implements that I would be using to prepare the newspaper for microfilming:

1} Pencil
2} Calendar (remember later? this is later)
3} Pad of paper
4} Micro spatula
5} Scotch tape
6} A bone shaper
7} A razor

Also, if the paper was in extremely poor condition and very old, there was special archival tape that was used to repair said newspaper.

And the deviation? If the newspaper was extremely new (less than 10 years old) and stored in a folded condition (in other words, the way you get your daily non-tabloid shaped newspaper), it had the mother of all creases. These fold creases had to be smoothed out so that it could be filmed properly.

Thus, we used a spray bottle, a clothes iron and ridiculously large manual press. Unless we had a lot to do or if the paper wasn't in good enough condition to handle the press. Then we used a humidifier and a paper rack covered in plastic sheeting to get rid of the creases.

Once that was all said and done, then we moved on to part 3 of our story, which brings us to this post. But since I probably made your eyelids heavy from reading this incredibly exciting post, I will end it here for now and say, "WAKEY, WAKEY!!!"
Up next: Prepping Newspapers For The Runway (part 2)


  1. My husband thinks opera is boring, and I do, too, but that's beside the point. The point is, I'm sure someone has thought of televising the process you just described. :-)

    Would you look at that giant fwog!

  2. I'm still awake!

    It sounds a lot like what you have to do to prep a runway model for a fashion show!!! Lots of makeup to cover the wear and tear from the bender of the night before, hairspray (not just for hair anymore) and a silent prayer that the model won't trip over her overly long skirt and go sprawling on the walk down the aisle! LOL! At least what you're doing has value!


  3. Pink: It's quite possible. In this state, we have a channel called "The Connecticut Network" and it shows nothing but hearings of various state governmental committees. Sort of like C-Span, only local.

    JMS: Had value. I should clarify that this is what I used to do for the first seven years of my state career. I stopped doing this when I was laid off in 2003. I got rehired in the summer of '03 and I'm now on a different career path.

    However, that was a nice comparison you made to a runway model. Thanks.

  4. Maybe for an episode of the reality show, "Dirty Jobs."

  5. Yeah.

    He can have his hands covered completely in red rot (mold), newspaper ink and dust.

    'course, he'll probably fall asleep from boredom even before he gets a quarter of the way through.

  6. Don't laugh but I'm pretty sure I would enjoy doing that (boring guy, I). Looking forward to hearing more...

  7. David, I would think you would have a blast doing it.

    Since history seems to be your forte', these papers are positively loaded with local/national history.

    They were (and continue to be) a blast for me to do. In some ways, doing this job for the first seven years of my state career, basically eliminated most historical non-fiction for me. In other ways, it added new venues of non-fiction to read and explore.

    I wish I still had some of the articles I saved from that time frame, because it would have been a blast to share with everyone.

    But I am going to try my best to ransack my memory in the coming weeks/months for everyone.

  8. Who knew there was that much prep?! Quite a precise science.

    And yes - I shoudln't 've read it needing a nap. Tired now :)

  9. Precise ain't the word.

    Mind numbing is more like it.

    And I told you, read this while you gots lots of energy (your child's energy should be enough to power you through this kind of stuff next time),


  10. I love the microfilm stories - one day in the future someone like tony robinson will be doing a worst jobs in history television series featuring it :) (well it probably won't be television by the, it will be some kind of upload into a chip directly into our brains or something)

  11. Ahhhhh....the beauty of mircofilm.

    So compact, yet so much better than digitizing.

    Great for insomia.


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