Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Prepping Newspapers For The Runway (pt 2)

Part 6 of The Library Chronicles

Since this is part two of the previous post, it would behoove me to once again post the disclaimer.

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.

After getting out my implements of destruction that I would be using for prepping the newspaper, I would get one more item situated properly before I got down to the thrill business of doing my job, which on bad days would make me wish I was sitting in a college classroom listening to a professor drone on about why space cadetting was a good thing to do.


The radio was my lifesaver while pursuing this endeavor, as it basically kept me awake and in a groove. Throughout the seven years I was doing this job, I listened to everything under the sun. I discovered and listened to college radio. I developed a better toleration of jazz. I developed an intense dislike of talk radio. I played two very large TimeLife music collections (about 150 tapes) from beginning to end. I listened to the NCAA's. I listened to the baseball playoffs. And when the radio wasn't available, I listened to the computer (favorite stations back then for me were: KTUH University of Hawaii, Triple J Australia, WFMU New Jersey).

So with everything now into its proper place, off to work I went. What follows will be a brief description of what I typically did to one page of print. Multiply that by 1500, and you'll get the basic idea on how mind numbing it became and most importantly, it will give you a background and a better understanding on future topics.

1) First thing I did was take out an "E loop" and measure the height of a typical letter 'e'. This was done so that the proper reduction level can be used for filming. If you used the wrong reduction level, the text became very blurry, thus impossible to read. The "E loop" was basically a chopped version of a rifle scope, complete with a cross hair sight and a dial to focus. And like a good scope, it cost an arm and leg as well ($150-$200 for an item with the diameter of a golf ball).

2) Once that was done, I took out my handy dandy pad and started taking copious notes on every little deviation on every single page. You name it, I made a note of it. To this day, this seven year span remains the only time I took detailed notes at any point in my state career. To this day, I detest making detailed notes. Instead, I simply write a one or two word phrase for what I need to do.

3) While I was doing that, I took out a blank calender and got it ready for use. In addition to taking copious notes, we had to also determine the publishing frequency and the page count of the newspaper in question. This was done by reading the masthead for pertinent information, or if the info wasn't available there, I checked the publisher's statement found (usually) on page 2. Once I was able to establish the frequency, it was easy enough to go along with what was stated on the masthead for dates and check off the days as I prepped. The page count was easy enough to track, depending on the frequency of the paper.

4) Now that I have everything out that I needed for note taking, I next got at the ready, scotch tape for repairs, a micro spatula to apply the tape to the newspaper, and a bone (to get rid of the shine).

Once these four initial steps were done, the following redundant steps were executed for each and every page:

I} Checked the date and the page count for the issue, and noted them accordingly on the calender. Also checked the title, just in case it changed during the particular year in question.
II} Checked the size of the print and noted it on the calender.
III} Gave the page a thorough going over and noting (if any) every single imperfection on the page.
IV} If there were any tears or holes that needed to be fixed, I fixed them using scotch tape, a micro spatula and the bone.

These four steps were done without fail with each and every single page that was worked on.

Were there hazards in doing this monotonous job? Sure there were. You got dishpan hands, due to washing them at least 20 times a day (lots of lotion was used); you frequently got a backache from standing over/hunching over the newspaper; and you frequently lost track of real world time. I cannot tell you how many times after I got done working a run of newspapers from the 19th century and had to ask my co-worker what day it was.

As with the last scintillating post, I will stop here and clap my hands a few times and say, "WAKEY, WAKEY!!!"
Up next......ROAD TRIP!!!!


  1. Interesting post and an interesting blog - I'll be following

  2. Thanks.

    I'll be sure to check yours out for a reciprocal visit.


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