Why we lost the Centralia Chronicle’s archives (and a thought about library super-users)

A few weeks ago, I was looking for some articles about Timberland Library in of our reference databases, and I noticed we no longer had access to the archives of the Centralia Chronicle in our reference databases.

I brought this up at the last trustee meeting and it turns out I wasn’t the only person who noticed. Edna Fund, the Timberland trustee for Lewis County, said that she was contacted by someone troubled by the loss of the Chronicle archives. The patron (who writes local history and finds an easy to access local news archive invaluable) said that while she had supported the library, would not support TRL in the future.

It turns out that while we lost it online, Timberland patrons who access the Chronicle’s website inside a library (at a terminal or over wifi) can use their usually for-pay web services for free. That’s not exactly the same thing, but its also not nothing.

It’s also worth noting that TRL has the Chronicle archives from 1908 to present on microfilm at the Centralia branch.

A little bit on why we lost the Chronicle:

  • Up until a few months ago, we had access to two local news archives online, the Aberdeen Daily World and the Centralia Chronicle.
  • Both the Daily World and Chronicle cost about $2,000 a year to access previously, but the Chronicle recently increased to over $7,000 a year.
  • By comparison, Proquest — which provides acccess to hundreds of resources also costs around $7,000.

We also have no access (aside from microfilm at the Olympia branch) to the Olympian’s archives, the other daily newspaper in our service area.

This episode is a good example of the nature of information and why libraries are important. While this was an example of how the library was priced out of providing information to the community, it shows that information (even on the web) is not in fact free. And, if libraries can afford it, we can help make information free and accessible to all.

It also got me thinking about library super users, the kind of people who like to have access to local newspaper archives in the early morning so they can write. It made me think about people who use the library for regular research, for more than just entertaining reading material.

While they take a lot of value from the library’s resources and provide a lot to the community (I have a lot of love for local history), they can also provide a lot to the library community.

Take, for example, this greasemonkey script to connect Goodreads with the TRL catalog (might not work anymore). Or, this version of a pdf file for the TRL adult winter reading program flier made by an Olympia patron. Instead of having to print out and manually write in your entries, you can type them in.

Anyway, this kind of community building can happen on its own (is happening), but it would be great if the super-users were talking to each other, collaborating, advocating for their needs and telling us what they’d like to do.

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8 Comments

Filed under reference, technology

8 responses to “Why we lost the Centralia Chronicle’s archives (and a thought about library super-users)

  1. SuperFriends of the Library! I like it.

    A small nit – a few “library’s” in there should be “libraries” instead.

  2. emmettoconnell

    Yeah, the original version of that post probably could’ve used some editing before I hit publish. Thanks for the eagle eye.

    I could start a website/group blog, what have you. But, I’d feel weird creating something that would be in a way advocating towards myself. And, if there’s enough interest out there, I’d rather have someone else take it on.

    Hint/Hint

  3. Thad Curtz

    If you get a community borrower’s card at The Evergreen State College Library, you can access The Olympian’s archive for the last ten years or so on-line there (through a search engine which is dramatically better than The Olympian’s). Unfortunately, community borrowers don’t get the on-line access that students, faculty and staff do – but they get unlimited access to the library’s collection of research databases from the library’s computers – including Proquest and many others…

    Getting a card is simple – you need identification that shows your street address, and community is widely defined – you can get a card if you live in Shelton, for example…

  4. Thad Curtz

    I wrote a number of little Javascript bookmarklets a while ago like the Greasemonkey script Emmett mentions. Mine let you click on links in your browser toolbar if you found a book on Amazon that interested you and automatically look it up in the Timberland catalog or the Evergreen catalog, collect and print out the bibliographical info for a set of books on Amazon by clicking on toolbar links, etc.

    You can read about them and look at the code (and try them if you like) – at http://academic.evergreen.edu/c/curtzt/TESCBookmarklets.html.

    I really wrote these to help Evergreen faculty order books for programs more easily, so some of them do more than other users may need – like give you the list of books as the text of an email addressed to the old bookstore staff at the college… These things would be easy to change, if anybody were interested.

    The Evergreen ones still work, but the Timberland ones don’t work anymore because they were written for the previous catalog’s web interface. (I assume they could be adapted for the new catalog.) Feel free to try them out if you’re interested; I’m confident that they won’t break anything on your machine – they just scrape the needed information out of the Amazon pages, format it appropriately, and send a web request to the libraries’ computer catalogs…

  5. Thad Curtz

    Actually (having resorted to Google) it looks as if anybody interested in this kind of thing now should probably start by looking at LibX.

    http://libx.org/

    LibX is a browser plugin for Firefox and Internet Explorer that provides direct access to your library’s resources.
    LibX is an open source framework from which editions for specific libraries can be built.
    Currently, 853 academic and public libraries have created public LibX editions.

  6. Brian Vander Veen

    The Greasemonkey script for Goodreads still works! I had to
    do a bit of an overhaul for the new OPAC, but the most recent
    version works. There’s a minor issue with the author/subject search
    (the one that kicks in if the exact ISBN isn’t found in the
    catalog) that I still need to tinker with, but for the majority of
    items on Goodreads, there should be no problem.

  7. Thad Curtz

    One thing leads to another – I used the LibX automated Edition-Builder to create a trial version for our local libraries, which you can install and try out at http://libx.org/editions/libxtestedition.php?edition=7C0A6BC3.1

    LibX gives you a toolbar with (from left to right) a pull-down menu for Preferences, a pull-down menu for various kinds of searches, a field for your search terms, a little blue down arrow that lets you add more fields for multiple searches like author and title, a pull-down menu to choose the catalog to search, and a link for Google Scholar onto which you can drag search terms. (To actually search libraries, you type your search in the field and hit Return or click on the “Search .. Library Catalog” tab – or drag search terms from the browser page onto that.)

    LibX also inserts a little icon next to book titles on a wide variety of sites like Amazon – right clicking on that (or Control-click on my Mac) gives you a pull-down menu that lets you look up the book in the library catalogs. It also turns ISBNs into live links that you can click to do catalog searches, but only in the primary library catalog – Timberland’s in this particular build – since this blog got me started on this.

    It will do other fancier stuff with things like Open-URLs too, but those settings require more esoteric knowledge of the innards of the local library systems than I have – see the rest of the test page if you’re interested. (I hope someone who knows more than I do may go further with this…)

  8. Sarah

    The Access Newspaper Archive can be accessed at home through Timberland with a library card, they do have The Daily Chronicle 1941 – 1977, plus earlier Centralia papers too back to late 1889. This doesn’t help folks who need access to more recent, but I thought it worth mentioning.

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