Part 9 of The Library Chronicles
First off, I want to apologize for the almost one month gap between episodes. I meant to get it done weeks earlier, but other things kept cropping up to prevent me from writing it. That said, we continue with part 10 of The Library Chronicles.
So when I showed up at the library/historical society to pick up the newspaper(s) in question, I would be given a brief list on what we (meaning the Library) could do or not do with/to the newspapers. What follows is a few typical examples of what we weren't allowed to do, and how we were able to get around that particular issue (or not get around).
Warning: Don't read this if you're in the house and there's fantastic weather outside. Go grab some down time for yourself. Go on, scoot! Good grief, there's a millions things to do outside in the fantastic weather! Like taking your laptop outside and reading my blog, for example.
1} No flattening of the newspaper with things like a press or an iron. Sometimes we would get newspapers, that due to the stupid storage conditions inflicted on it, would have a brown crease at the fold so severe that you could use it to clean your fingernails with. Which in turn would create a "shadow" on the microfilm and make the text unreadable. The way that was usually fixed was to spray water on the fold and either use an iron to flatten it or stick it in a ginormous press. When we weren't allowed to do that, we instead used to a humidifier to relax the fibers, then covered the paper with black newsprint and place weights on them (usually bricks) to flatten the paper. Sometimes it work, sometimes it didn't. When it didn't, we stuck the paper in something called Mylar.
2} Repair using only archival tape. To repair holes, tears, etc., we usually used regular scotch tape. It's effective and gets the job done. We simply slap a couple of pieces on, use a herring bone to get rid of the shine, and viola', she is done. However, when this type of restriction was put on us, we took out the archival tape (specifically Filmoplast brand) to make the needed repairs. It was slow and very meticulous work, designed to slow the process down and it forced you only to make critical repairs, as opposed to the wholesale repairs that were normally done.
3} No repairs. This restriction frequently caused us the most problems. This invariably was forced on us by the owners of newspapers that, due to incredibly bad storage techniques, needed it the most. It was weird correlation (Murphy's Law for the Library) that the more poorer the condition of the newspaper, the more restrictions that were put on us. Like fixing the poor example of the newspaper would somehow make it worse if we actually prolonged its life. The one real way around it was to the wrap the damaged newspaper in blank newsprint. There was really one time that I can recall in which we actually returned to a myopic historical society there precious newspaper (which we really did need for filming), because the restriction of not repairing their seriously deteriorating newspaper was unworkable.
4} No cutting of the newspaper. Now this wasn't much of a problem as you might think. Usually we would chop the newspaper down the middle to separate the pages. When this restriction was presented to us, we did a simple page count and boxed the newspaper accordingly.
We had other types restrictions placed on us from time to time, but for the most part, these were our four major headaches that we frequently dealt with.
Up next: The fine art of microfilming.