Saturday, February 15, 2014

Spotlight Articles at BPL

Your town historian is excited about some empty shelves at the Bethlehem Public Library. 

That’s where back issues of the Spotlight used to reside.  They have been sent off to be digitized. The lovely thing about digitizing is that the newspaper then becomes easily searchable in a way that was unheard of not too long ago.  Indexes are great – but they can miss things.  A key word search turns up all kinds of interesting stuff.  

Here's a link to the Spotlight article on the project

What got me thinking about this was a trip to the library last week to look up some info in the Spotlight about the Delmar Four Corners.  The empty shelves reminded me they were gone – and that they are not indexed anyway.  I was planning on just flipping thru to see what I could see.

Fortunately, the library still keeps some things old school.  Like the history file cabinet with its files of history info, the majority of which are copies of newspaper articles.  I was able to look in the Hamlets section and then in the Delmar file and found many helpful articles.

Go have a browse through sometime. 

Speaking of newspaper clippings…. clipping newspaper stories was something town historians have done in years past.  In my office are several file boxes full of manila envelopes inscribed with topics like schools, government, crime, and library. Inside these envelopes are newspaper clippings from the Spotlight, Albany Times Union, Albany Evening Post and others.  I made a conscience decision when I became Town Historian (in September of 2007 if you are curious) not to continue this practice.  First, it would be an enormous drain on my time. Second, what are libraries for? And third, modern technology has made newspaper clipping files obsolete.

One last note, my “office” is a room over the town garage on Adam’s Street.  I avoid it as much as possible.  It is creepy and dark, but does make a good storage space for history related stuff.  Certainly nothing important, original historic documents and photos are stored in the archive at Town Hall. My office files have things like Xerox copies of original documents, those newspaper clippings and various notes and books that I don’t want to throw away but are taking up too much room in my house – which is where I do most of my work.  If the town ever re-imagines Town Hall (which at the moment is stuffed to the gills) I would lobby hard for an accessible, non-isolated office where I might even be able to have office hours.

1 comment:

  1. "Historians should especially eschew time-consuming activities like assembling scrapbooks of newspaper clippings. Clippings of newsprint will only survive for a few years and microfilm copies of newspapers are already preserved in several depositories in the state."