Always Call Ahead To Facility You Are Going To Visit To Do Onsite Research; Make Sure All Equipment You Will Need Is Functioning

Hi Everyone!

STDL ImageIt is great when you get the opportunity to go out and do some genealogy research at an off-site facility.  Let’s say you wanted to make a visit to look at some microfilms that a facility has.

This facility could be a library, a Family History Center (FHC), an archive

All you have to do is get in your car, make that drive that takes you 45 minutes, do your research, make some discoveries and finally, make copies of your discoveries on the microfilm reader-printer.  Sounds simple.  What could go wrong, especially with microfilm reader-printers?

Plenty!

Why do I even bring this up.  Because internally at our library I just received notice that our only available microfilm reader-printer is out of toner to allow printing.  It was also indicated that we will not be able to get a replacement toner cartridge for about a week!  So our reader-printer can be used but it won’t be able to make print copies of what you are viewing on the film.  The old reader-printer does not have any flashdrive capability so you do not have the ability to make a digital image of the screen.

Bummer!

There is a simple lesson to be learned here, especially when you know you are going to be using a facility’s microfilm reader-printer.  Call before you embark on your journey and ask if the reader-printer you plan on using will be fully useable, especially if you will want to make print copies. 

If they have multiple reader-printers you may still be in luck to use those that are fully functional.  But even that could be frustrating because now the functioning devices will be in greater use even more.  So you will have other researcher competition for the lesser amounts of functioning devices.

You could even consider to bring in your digital camera to take pictures of the microfilm images.  You have to ask if using a camera at the microfilm reader-printer is acceptable within the policies of the facility.  At least that might be a possible workaround when equipment is not working fully.

Save yourself the frustration of arriving only to then be told the microfilm reader is broke either for actually viewing (think burned out bulb that is not readily replaceable) or as in our case, we are out of toner and you will not be able to make paper copies.

Always ask more than is the facility open, what are its hours, what is the location etc.  Be sure the equipment you want to use, ESPECIALLY MICROFILM READER-PRINTERS, are FULLY functional!

Make that call before you get in your car.

Save yourself the frustration that will result when you arrive and make your unhappy discovery about equipment failure that is going to curtail your much planned research outing.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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