Monday, March 23, 2009

Hi There! I Represent The Acme Insurance Co. Of Walla Walla, Washington! And Have I Got A Deal For You!

Part 8 of The Library Chronicles
Okay, so it wasn't the best title I could come up with, but the Daffy Duck salesman analogy does work for this post.

As I mentioned in the last post, one of my favorite things to do was to go on road trips. Why was this my favorite thing to do?

It got me out of the office, and most importantly, I got paid to drive around this tiny little state and practice my salesman skills face-to-face (which to this day, still suck) with an unsuspecting general public.

To give you the reader, a basic idea of how I went about acquiring an institution's private property, I will give you an example of what exactly what I did to acquire said private property. Playing the part of the institution will be you the reader, and playing the part of an overly annoyed state worker, will be moi.

After we (meaning the CT Newspaper Project) had determined that certain issues needed to be borrowed so as to make a more complete run of a particular newspaper title, it was left up to me to make the necessary arrangements to acquire said title.

Gathering up my notes, I sat down and dialed up the institution in question:

"Hello, Capitol City Historical Society (not an actual historical society). How may I help you today?"
"Good morning. May I speak to Mrs. _____ please?"
"May I ask who's calling?"
"Connecticut Newspaper Project."
"One moment." (At this point, I would be point on hold for about thirty seconds or so.)
"This is Mrs._____, how may I help you?"
"Hi. My name is George_____and I work for the CNP. We're currently filming a newspaper called the New Haven Evening Leader (a very real newspaper), and according to our records, your historical society owns a few issues that would help fill in the gaps. We would like to borrow those issues for filming."
"I see. If we let you borrow our newspapers, what's in it for us?"
"Well, for starters, for every newspaper that you agree to let us borrow, you'll get a free roll of microfilm. Additionally, we would work with any reasonable request in what we can do to your newspaper."

The rest of the phone call pertained to setting up a time and a date to go down and pick up the newspaper(s). This of course was 95% of the battle. The other 5% was agreeing to whatever restrictions the institution put on the newspaper in question.

After getting out the door with the item(s) in question, I got back to the office and got started on the process of organizing and preparing the acquisition in question, within the guidelines set forth by the lending institution.

Normally, if no restrictions were put on the items in question, we would start off with prepping the newspaper according to our guidelines (flattening, repairing, cutting and collating). However, if restrictions were put into place, then things moved along much more slowly.

What will be following in the next post (which you should read with lots of energy), will be a brief list of the types of restrictions that lending institutions would put on their property, and the ways we would work with them, or in some cases, around them.
Up next: Restrictions? What restrictions?


  1. Looks like you have a good sales pitch! This sounds like an involved process. I'm glad to hear that newspapers are being put to good use in this project. It's a shame that we don't see people reading newspapers anymore. When I used to work in NYC, everyone was reading the paper on the train or outside on a bench. I wonder what I would see today? Lots of Ipods and Blackberrys, I'm afraid. I'm a fan of the printed word. I look forward to your next installment. Hooray for Daffy Duck too!

  2. It was (and still is) a worthy cause. Putting old newspapers on microfilm (or digitizing, which is the latest thing) is the best way to share them with the rest of the public, be they historians, avid researchers/genealogists, or just simply people who are curious about history and the world around them.

    I learned so much about history, be it local, state, national or worldwide, reading these newspapers, that it pretty much blew away whatever I knew previously about the world we live in.


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