The Bloomfield Public Library has recently replaced its antiquated microfilm viewing and copying machine with a cutting-edge piece of equipment.
The Scan Pro 2500 is used in tandem with a new computer to scan microfilmed newspapers to provide the best possible image. Both machines are next to the reference desk. The vendor of the 2500 is e-Image Data, located in Wisconsin.
“They provide pretty good support,” said Lisa Cohn, the librarian instrumental in obtaining the 2500. “We can call them and they can talk us through any problems we have. We called them to set it up and I had a few questions when we used it.”
The Scan Pro 2500 arrived in June.
“The big, old microfilm machine is barely working,” Cohn said. “You can view with it, but if you want to make a copy of a newspaper page, that thing isn’t working. You’d have to take a photograph of the screen. But with the Scan Pro, you can print a part of the page, the whole page, magnify a page or put it on a flash drive.”
The 2500 can also crop an image, straighten and sharpen it and with aged and blurred newspapers, clean them up so you can see them. The 2500 takes spools of microfilm, but could also take spools of fiche although the library does not have any of these.
“About 25 years ago when I started working here, we had fiche of old magazines,” Cohn said. “Probably nobody remembers this. There’s no need for that now. You can probably go to the website of the magazine.”
Fiche, short for microfiche, is film on which information, such as a newspaper or magazine, is photographed in reduced size. A machine is used to magnify the film to make it legible.
The people who would be interested in the 2500 would most likely be looking to find something within the annals of Bloomfield history. But there are websites that offer newspapers from far-flung communities. Cohn was told that the computer was capable of digitizing a newspaper, but admits she is still learning how to fully operate everything. But she is capable of doing a word search of a digitized newspaper on her desk computer.
Given a specific time frame, Cohn is able to type into her computer search words and the computer does the rest.
“Then we can use the Scan Pro to get a better picture of it. And the software can clean it up.”
But still a problem with any copies of old newspapers is that they are sometimes not altogether legible.
“So a word search on those newspapers is going to be hit or miss, but more miss than hit.”
Cohn acknowledges that searching old newspapers, even digitized newspapers, is time consuming.
“If I want to search more than one year of the digitized files, I let it go all night and come back in the next day to see what I have,” she said.
The library has The Independent Press, 1913 to 2019, in digitized format.
“If anyone is interested in genealogy, they should see me,” Cohn said. “The library is a FamilySearch affiliate and we have a subscription to Ancestry Library Edition.”
So far, one person has used the 2500 and Cohn was excited
“She seemed to pick things up very quickly,” Cohn said.
Anyone interested in using the Scan Pro 2500 should contact Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s a very expensive machine or they can ask me to look for them and I’ll send it to them,” she said. “The funding has been made possible in part by the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State, through funds administered by the Essex County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs. The grant this year was for $6,000 and the microfilm reader cost $6,080. This particular grant source, in previous years, has paid for digitizing and also for proper archival materials to better house the library’s historical collections.