EATON — Thanks to a grant from the W.E. Smith Family Charitable Trust, the Preble County District Library’s genealogy department (the Preble County Room) now has a brand new machine for reading and digitizing microfilm and microfiche. In addition to being open to public use, the new machine will be used to digitize microfilmed archives of county newspapers, which date back to the mid-1800s.
“Angie (Getter, Preble County Room Supervisor) first approached me about this project late last year,” said PCDL Marketing Coordinator Mike Zimmerman. “We spent a lot of time researching different machines, and she found out about the W.E. Smith Trust grant program.”
The machine is a ScanPro 3000 manufactured by the company E-Imagedata. The scanner connects to a computer and monitor, which can display the film and make it easy to manipulate.
“We were impressed with the ScanPro’s ability for optical zooming, which gives clear images of even tiny portions of film,” Getter said. “Coupled with the ability to print to multiple sizes of paper, save to USB drives, and automatically scan rolls of film, we thought it the best machine for our patrons and for staff projects.”
Even though it’s only been up and running inside the Preble County Room, the microfilm scanner has already seen some use.
“Someone brought in some old microfiche cards to scan to his USB drive, and he was impressed with the capabilities,” Getter said. “He brought back some printed pages he’d done from the scans, and the text was clear and readable.”
The grant paid for nearly half of the total cost, with donations to the Preble County Room also helping to fund the project.
“We’re lucky that, although our services are free, people who visit the Preble County Room see enough value in what we do to donate. That helps us keep up-to-date and maintain the resources we have,” Getter said.
The scanner is also able to quickly scan and recognize text from microfilm, and Getter plans to use this capability to make archived newspapers available and searchable on the library’s genealogy databases. The Preble County Room maintains two databases of local digital records available at www.preblelibrary.org/genealogy. The Preble County Room is located at 450 S. Barron St. in Eaton.