Looking Back: A joining of the past and the electronic age

The Alderwood Manor Library (Photo courtesy of Alderwood Manor Heritage Association)
The Alderwood Manor Library (Photo courtesy of Alderwood Manor Heritage Association)

For many people, microfilm and microfiche may appear too antiquated to even bother with anymore. Especially, since it may seem as if everything that is important from the past in the way of books and other written material has now been digitized and is available to all. However, if you are a historian, a writer, or working on a term paper, you have probably discovered that many of our old newspapers and other writings have not been digitized, and most likely will never be available except on microfilm, or sometimes crumbling hard copies.

Such is the case with the issues of the former Edmonds newspapers, the Review, Tribune and the Tribune-Review. The Edmonds Tribune-Review, after decades of keeping the people of South Snohomish County informed, closed its doors in 1981 and only a few copies of this beloved newspaper have been digitized. An almost-complete set is available in hard copy at the Sno-Isle Genealogical Society in Lynnwood’s Heritage Park, but those are now becoming very fragile. It is at the Lynnwood Public Library where you will find almost every issue of this great newspaper—on microfilm.

If, like me, you have been frustrated using the old style microfilm/microfiche reader/printers, it has probably become a tedious, time consuming, and aggravating chore. The machine at the Lynnwood Library was either out of paper, had a paper jam, or before we even got that far, the film stubbornly decided it didn’t want to load. So, we would have to get help from a busy librarian. Even though the librarians are always friendly and helpful, I am sure they were equally frustrated.

Image my surprise and delight to walk into the library last week and find the library had just installed the latest in microfilm/microfiche technology, a ScanPro 3000. As the company says, bringing ultra high definition to microfilm. I was told this marvel in new technology is easy to use and has a screen magnifier that will let you scan and view the text or image details up to 800 per cent. Some of the other features are it is easy to load the film; you can enhance the print, and you can highlight the area you are interested in and then crop it. For me, there is a really important feature—you can save your information to a flashdrive. Wow! Now all I have to do is go back and get a lesson on how to use this new wonder. I was told it is much simpler than operating the old style microfilm readers. I am sure it is.

We are lucky to have a library in Lynnwood concerned with keeping up with the times. We have come a long way in the 82 years since I was a little 6-year-old girl in Alderwood Manor, the community we now know as the City of Lynnwood. As a child, already a voracious reader, I walked a mile along a narrow graveled road to a little one-room wood building operated by a few dedicated local ladies, and there I chose a book to read from what today would be considered a very meager collection. It was the time when I learned to love the Oz books and the latest in books for young girls—the Nancy Drew mysteries.

If you would like to learn the history of how a few dedicated ladies brought culture in the form of books to a small community over 90 years ago, you should read the story “Local Women start Alderwood Manor Community Library” written by Lynnwood’s late Marie Little. This little one-room library, which was located on what is today 36th Avenue West, a few miles north of our present library, paved the way for the library Lynnwood has today.

Marie’s article written for The Snohomish County Women’s Legacy Project can be found at https://snohomishwomenslegacy.org, story number 14.

— By Betty Lou Gaeng

A long-time resident of Lynnwood, Betty Lou Gaeng is a genealogist, historian, researcher and writer who is active in volunteer work for Lynnwood’s Heritage Park Partners Advisory Committee and the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association at Heritage Park. She is also a member of the League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations (LOSCHO) and the South County Historical Society and Museum.  Gaeng is the author of two books: “Etched in Stone,” which is the history of the Edmonds Museum memorial monument, and “Chirouse” about a Catholic missionary priest who came from France to Washington Territory in 1847 and became a father figure and friend to the Puget Sound area’s Native people.

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