Even though new websites make family records from across the world available to anyone with a computer, there’s a point you have to get in a car and visit the old home counties in person.
People wanting to know more about their Redwood County family histories often make the Redwood Falls Public Library one of their first stops.
And the library has more information available than ever before. Soon, the library will own complete runs of 22 newspapers across the county, in some cases going all the way back to 1869.
The old newspapers are archived on microfilm, the most durable way to save large amounts of information even in the digital age.
Until this week, however, looking over the microfilms could be a challenge. The library’s old microfilm reader was often dim and hard to focus and load. The only way to save pages was with often dark, smudged paper prints.
Walk into the genealogy room at the library today, however, and step into the 21st century.
Last year the Minnesota Historical Society awarded the library a $12,513 grant to update its microfilm reader to the latest standards. The new equipment was installed last Wednesday.
The new computerized system includes a scanner to create high-resolution photographs of selected images, and software to fine-tune them.
Once the image is scanned, you can adjust contrast and darkness for better readability. To keep down clutter, you can crop the parts of the image you want to save to get rid of extraneous information.
A new large-screen monitor can be turned on its side to better show off vertical photographs or newspaper columns.
Once you’ve found the old items you want, you can save it in several ways:
• On a flash drive connected to the scanner.
• You can send it directly to your email.
• You can print it on the library’s new scanner/printer devoted just to the genealogy room.
Being able to quickly save images on your flash drive has another advantage: you’re not limited to looking at them at the library.
If you have a general idea of what you’re looking for, just save the relevant pages on your flash drive. Then you can take them home and go over them in more detail at your leisure.
The public is invited to an open house of the genealogy room to be held on Feb. 14 from 2-5 p.m.. Also stop in to learn about genealogy programming beginning in March.