Avid researcher glad library has new microfilm machine

Gary Kean gkean@thewesternstar.com
Published on June 7, 2014
Doris Butt is looking forward to getting used to and using the new microfilm reader at the Corner Brook Library.
Star photo by Geraldine Brophy

 Doris Butt has been an avid researcher of local and family history for the past 35 years, so that has meant plenty of trips to the local library.

Of course, much of the information she has sought out through the years is not found in any book.

A lot of it is not even available by searching the Internet.

For things like local newspaper stories from yesteryear or some birth, marriage and death notices, the Corner Brook resident has had to resort to perusing archives stored on microfilm.

“I grew up in Petries (area of Curling) and still live there,” said Butt. “I have learned from family and friends about a lot of interesting things that have happened in our area — things you never learned about it in school, but you could find out about on microfilm files at the library.”

Through her microfilm research, Butt has learned about things like the interesting history of the former bank building in Curling, about how there used to be a hotel and golf course in the area and how the Bay of Islands received visits from royalty and an American president in the past.

Not long after the new Corner Brook Public Library opened its doors, the old microfilm machine that had been transported over from the old library in the Sir Richard Squires Building gave up its ghost.

That was around two years ago. When Butt found out a couple of months ago that the library was about to get a brand new microfilm reading machine, she was elated.

“I was disappointed when the old one gave out and I used to go in periodically and ask if they are going to get a new one,” she said. “I think it’s quite an addition to the community and it’s very important to have it here. I hope anyone who is interested will go in and learn how to use it and enjoy it as much as I have.”

Before the new machine, Butt would borrow microfilm and view it on an older machine at her church. That machine required her to manually advance the frames of archival film.

With the new ScanPro 2000 at the public library, research jobs will be less tedious.

Of course, it’s not likely the age-old problem of getting googly-eyed from spending too much time looking at microfilm will be remedied by the new technology.

“I haven’t spent a lot of time on it yet, but I guess it would be the same as any other computer screen,” said Butt. “It would be hard on your eyes if you sat down and focused on it for too long.”