Friday, February 27, 2009

Road Trip

Part 7 of The Library Chronicles
One of my favorite duties while working on the Connecticut Newspaper Project was going on road trips. Doing a road trip usually involved a multitude of steps, which varied depending on whether I was doing a pick up or delivery. There was one constant variable that triggered this particular duty: We needed one/multiple issue(s) of newspapers, in order to make an accurate reel of film.

Initially, I was simply the provided muscle/driver for a given road trip, as my supervisor usually booked/scheduled the trip in question. Later on, I became the contact/go-to person when it came to booking trips for pick-ups and deliveries.

Basically, the entire road trip process when something like this.

After we had determined that for a particular run of newspapers we were filming (for example, The Connecticut Western, based out of Falls Village, CT) we needed to borrow a few issues {or in this particular case, multiple decades}, we checked our handy-dandy database to determine what library/historical society had these issues in question.

After making the initial phone call, with me giving the usual spiel that for every newspaper your organization loans us, you get a free roll of microfilm {or in some cases, hundreds of free rolls} and you get to have a final say in how we can process your newspapers, I would schedule a time and day to do a pickup. Usually, I would try to kill multiple birds with one stone and schedule multiple pickups so I could acquire as much stuff as we needed with the fewest trips possible.

Sometimes though, because of where some of these places were, my trips got to be quite interesting. There were times where my trip schedule literally took me from a starting point of Hartford, to the Massachusetts border, to the Rhode Island border and back. Back then I wasn't a very good trip scheduler, but I got better with practice.

Anyways, I would arrive at the particular library {or historical society, or on more than one occasion, a private house} and go about my business of borrowing the newspapers. This is where my hidden telemarketing/salesman skills came out in full force.

Note: For the readers here that only know me from this blog or the chat rooms, I have current and former co-workers who can attest to my incredibly nasty phone skills. Suffice to say, once you've had an encounter with me via the phone, your blood sugar rises 150 points.

After getting what I needed from said institution, and agreeing to every reasonable/unreasonable demand that was made to me before hand, I loaded up the car and continued on my circuitous trip. If it was a particularly long one, I did lunch before heading home.

These road trips were my way of escaping from the tedium of the day-to-day grind of prepping newspapers, inspecting newspapers and inspecting microfilm. By the time I moved on to another department several years later, by my own count I had visited about two dozen libraries and about the same amount of historical societies. To this day, I can still get to these places without getting lost. Sometimes I need a refresher with Mapquest, but for the most part, it's been a piece of cake.

Additionally, I got to know more of this state during those several years, than I did during non-work related activities. I visited almost four dozen towns, driven every major interstate in CT and can also get from border to border to border without ever setting foot on a major highway if need by. I've visited Long Island Sound; the Farmington Valley; the Connecticut River from beginning to end; the very scenic Meritt Parkway; Yale; New London College; Wesleyan University; the Connecticut Shoreline from Westport to North Stonington, (gulp) the Manshantucket Pequot Research Center, and the Barnum Museum.

I've visited large city libraries (Waterbury, Hartford and Bridgeport); small town libraries (my fave was the Meriden Public Library, only because of what one particular newspaper they had); large historical societies (Connecticut Historical Society); small local ones (almost every town in this state has one, which totals almost 169); large newspapers (Norwich Bulletin, The New Britain Herald) and small (The New Milford Times).

It was a truly enjoyable learning experience, and one that I unfortunately, will probably never do again.
Up next: Some of the nifty restrictions that I had to work with in order to do my job properly.


  1. I used to enjoy a good road trip, an adventure. not so much these days.

  2. I agree with you there.

    While I enjoyed road trips as recent as a couple of years ago, the various physical maladies that I currently possess prevents me from enjoying them now (especially last year when I took a road trip to Indianapolis to visit a friend).

  3. I love visiting libraries when we go to a new city.

  4. I visited quite a few nifty libraries through my first seven years of working for the state.

    I still try to get out to them every once in a blue moon.

    For the most part though, historical societies are really the way to go if you want to find out about a particular town/city.

  5. Libraries are one of my favorite destinations! I hope future generations continue to visit them. I worry about kids thinking that everything of value can be found on the Internet. Let's hope that today's educators and parents try to instill in children a love and respect for libraries. Thank you for visiting my blog! I'll try and stop by your other blog to read about your book :)

  6. Let's hope so.

    I find that my public library is the perfect place for me to go on the weekends when I need some peace and quiet to get my writing done (among other things)

    And you're more than welcome. I always like finding new blogs to read and follow.

  7. I used to go on roadtrips too when I worked for the gov't in Canada. Favorite part was listing to my music. I blasted U2s Joshua Tree non-stop for about a year on my car stereo.


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