Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Old-school Research

Micro-film research
Riverton Public Library
November 2013

Many may think I am crazy, but I love to research: to me, it is like working on a puzzle, looking at all the pieces of information and discovering the one that fits perfectly.

My niece is transcribing her paternal grandmother's diaries and wanted some items from old local newspapers that were mentioned. She emailed a list of dates, ranging from 1956 to 1990, with specific information/articles she wanted. I printed her list and headed to the library.

The library has the local paper on microfilm, so it was just a matter of getting the reel of film for a specific date, locating the item, printing it, and moving on to the next item. Sounds easy, right?

I haven't used microfilm in years, but the process easily came back to me. Anyone who has ever used microfilm and microfiche knows that "word search" is not possible. It takes patience and persistence. Speeding through the multiple pages, I came to appreciate internet and computer searches even more.

I found the first item fairly quickly and pushed the "print" button on the microfilm reader and the page emerged from the printer. Oops, I didn't center it very well, so I adjusted the reader and pushed "print" again. Nothing happened, so I went to the check-out desk to ask for assistance. The woman came over and pushed the "print" button - nothing happened. She turned the printer "off" and then "on." Nothing happened.

The woman who is an "expert" with the machine was not working that day.

I texted my niece and asked if the print-outs were necessary and if I could take a photo of the screen with my cell phone. She said she was going to retype the articles anyway so a photo would be fine. Problem solved.

In the end, old technology and new technology meshed for a successful research assignment.


  1. I always dreaded research papers in school, but once I got started on them, I usually enjoyed the process a lot more than I expected to. I guess I just didn't like the pressure of so much of our grade riding on one project.

  2. I loved searching the microfilm and microfiche! That's how I did my research papers. What a great project.

  3. I can see where you would enjoy doing that! It is nice to have the resources we have for 'searching'

  4. I really enjoyed this post - reading during my break :-)

    Research is something I've always enjoyed and I've been doing a lot of family history research in the past few years. Lots of fun and lots of frustration. How exciting to be able to connect the diary stories and the newspapers. That is very cool.

    And cell phone cameras are one of the best new technologies out there - absolutely love mine. I just recently took a photo of a friend's recipe so I didn't have to write it out.

  5. I love doing research but it has been many years since I have used microfiche. That brings back such memories!!

  6. Nancy

    You are such a sweetie to help her out and enjoy it to boot!

  7. I'm still traumatized by the microfilm machine in my hometown library. It stopped working when I was in Jr. High and I was SO worried they would blame me for it.

  8. Those machines sometimes make me dizzy. I have to take breaks often. It is a way for me to research early residents:)

  9. YES! I remember fiche. When I was younger, and employed, all of our customers accounts were on micro fiche. I had forgotten all about that until you refreshed my memory~!

  10. I'm with you. Research is like a giant jigsaw puzzle waiting to be solved. Hum, I wonder if I should transcribe my grandparent's diaries? I have my paternal grandmothers and maternal grNdfather's. both were during WW I. I used to read from my grandmother's to students in my media classes as example of primary research. Now, where did I put them?


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