New reader will preserve history

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library has received enough donated funding to purchase a new microfilm reader and scanner in the coming weeks.
Pearl River County System Library System Director Carol Phares said funding came from the Friends of the Library, a generous private donor and a grant from the Library Services and Technology Act administered by the Mississippi Library Commission. She will order the new equipment next week.
The new machine will cost about $6,000 she said.
The old microfilm reader broke several years ago, and due to the high cost to repair it, the library decided to replace the aging machine with one that can also digitize the old documents, Phares said.
The new machine will also be about a quarter of the size of the old one and display images through a desktop or laptop computer, rather than the bulky screen of the older models, she said.
Due to the high amount of humidity in the storage room, some of the historic microfilm is deteriorating, Phares said.
With the help of volunteers, she said she hopes to scan all of the microfilm in the library’s archives to preserve it for future use.
Some of those records include copies of the Picayune Item dating back to the paper’s inception in 1904, she said.
Once the new machine arrives, visitors to the library will be able to scan, view, and download copies of the documents to a USB drive or print them out, Phares said.
With so many records to digitize, it will take many volunteer hours to scan them all, but hopefully in doing so the documents will become searchable for easy reference, she said.
Other machines scan full pages of bound books and store them in an electronic database. However those machines are much larger and the library doesn’t have the room, Phares said.
Other renovation projects are in the works at the library, including refurbishing the old circulation desk, which has been in use since the library opened over 50 years ago.
Phares said the Friends of the Library is raising funds to resurface the desktop with a marble-like material that will brighten the room.
The project will also make a section of the desk handicap accessible, Phares said.
Because the desk was built with solid materials, she said a full replacement wouldn’t be as sturdy.
In the future, Phares said she also hopes to replace the library’s computers to better serve the community, and move the old computers over to the card catalog area.
She is also seeking volunteers to resurface the library’s desks one at a time. Those, too, were installed over 50 years ago when the library opened, she said.

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About Julia Arenstam

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