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.