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Reading newspapers in the library

By Staff | Jul 24, 2016

It was good news for the Blue Earth Community Library last Monday night.

During their work session the City Council discussed a request from the library board for some funding for a new remodeling project. Then, during the regular council meeting, they voted to make the $1,500 increase in the library’s funding.

The project is pretty exciting. The plan is to open up the back wall between the main library and a meeting room that is in the back. That meeting room is pretty good-sized, and now is sort of a catch-all meeting room, craft room, activities room, storage room and, well, you get the idea.

Maybe you are a library patron who never even knew the room existed.

It sits unused most of the time and the library staff and the library board decided to try and make better use of it. Opening up the wall will make it become a part of the library.

The plan is to develop the area into a reading and research area of the library. There will be some research book shelves, computers, chairs and tables and the racks of old Blue Earth newspapers that are bound into large books.

Maybe you have seen those newspaper racks. They are now on shelves along the back wall of the main library area yes, the very wall that now will be blown out at least partially.

The books are of old Blue Earth Post and Faribault County Register newspapers. Each book contains one year’s worth of those newspapers and they go way back. There are newspapers from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, of course. But there are also ones from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

And, even earlier. Way, way earlier.

In fact, I think you can find copies of the very first Faribault County Register there, and that, folks, was published 147 years ago. That’s right, you can find copies of the newspapers from the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s there on the shelves in the Blue Earth Community Library.

Where did these books full of newspapers come from? Good question.

Well, most newspapers have always done this. They took a full year’s worth of issues of the paper and bound them into one large book a book the size of the newspaper page itself. The truth is that even with modern digital technology, we still get a bound copy of the actual year’s worth of printed newspapers each and every year.

The one for the Faribault County Register for 2015 is sitting in my office right now. So are the ones for the past eight years or so.

At some point in the past, the Register lent (or donated) all of the past years’ old bound books of papers to the library.

I think that was a pretty good move. After all, why should all these old newspaper archives sit in our basement “morgue” (storage room) when these books can be somewhere they can be viewed by anyone who wants to take a trip down memory lane or research an old event or find an obituary.

Many folks do just that. I know, I am one of them. Sometimes I want to read about some event in the past, say like in the 1960s, so I go to the library and look through the bound volume for the year I want.

If you plan on doing this, let me warn you. It is addictive. Instead of just looking for that one article I want, I begin to actually page through the whole book, spotting stories of interest about people I know. My planned 15-minute stop at the library for one thing turns into a two-hour adventure back in time.

Our ‘Register Reflections’ writer, Bev Teskey, says the same thing. She is in the library every other week doing her research for her column in the old newspapers and finds them fascinating to read.

Now, with this new project to develop a research room, she and others who want to look through the books will have a nice place to do it.

Currently, you have to lug the big books off the shelf and then go find a table somewhere where you can plop it down and look through it.

With the City Council’s backing, the remodeling should be starting soon. Their $1,500 support was the final key to moving ahead. The whole project will cost about $4,500 and the rest of the funds will come from the library’s fund balance and generous gifts from places like the Friends of the Library group volunteers who have a strong love for the library.

It will be fun to see this new improvement to the library. The residents of Blue Earth are blessed to have a very nice library in town. In fact, everyone in Faribault County is lucky there are such excellent libraries in all the towns of the county.

There are more than printed books in your library. There are audio books, ebooks, computers, movies, summer reading events, magazines and newspapers current editions and some that are nearly 150 years old.

Check it out.