By Angie Georgeff
At Rotary Club meetings, members share “happy news.” At last week’s meeting, I got to share some news that I’ve been hoping to report for nearly 10 years. The Unicoi County Public Library now has a microfilm scanner that permits users to print images. We hold a fairly large collection of microfilm. Previously, however, we had no way to print the images and no comfortable way even to view them. The devices that we’ve used for viewing over the years were anything but convenient. Ever since I started working at the library, I have wished for a microfilm reader/printer, but they are very expensive and our budget is tiny.
Happily, last year the stars aligned and we were given a large donation for that very purpose. It was not enough to buy a reader/printer outright, but it was a very generous start toward that goal. I knew that grant funds which could be used to purchase the hardware and software we needed were available to us through the Library Services and Technology Act, but we would need matching funds of fifty percent or maybe more. To make a long story short, we received several donations, applied for the grant, got it, and the equipment was installed on March 5.
As I was learning how to use it that afternoon, we received a call from a man living out-of-state who was looking for obituaries from The Erwin Record. His timing was perfect. We used his request as a training tool. I took down the names and dates and another staff member looked them up and printed them off for him. After so many years of “No, I’m sorry we can’t do that,” it was gratifying to say “Yes, we can!”
Now you can, too. We have some Unicoi County records on microfilm, but the newspapers are the ore that I most want to mine. We have microfilm of surviving Unicoi County newspapers in our collection from as early as 1887 to 1983. Please note that most editions from the early years have not survived, but those which have are invaluable. We also have 47 years of the Johnson City Press on microfilm from October 1960 through September 2007. That is a lot of history.
Seriously, this is the culmination of a dream for me, and I am grateful to everyone whose donations have made it possible. Thank you!
The Board of Trustees of the Unicoi County Public Library will meet in the library lobby at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 15. The public is welcome to attend. If you should require any accommodations in order to attend the meeting, please call 743-6533 for assistance.