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Library Trustees reach out to preserve town archives

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TOWSEND — Library trustees met with a key volunteer and a board member of the Townsend Historical Society to look at ways of preserving, archiving and presenting the town’s historical material currently stored at the library.

The library is in possession of the 1923 through 1972 editions of the Townsend Times, volunteer Bob Wilson said.

“It only exists on microfilm,” he said at the Feb. 9 meeting. To make matters more difficult, the microfilm reader is nonfunctional.

With an eye to digitizing the old issues, Wilson contacted a lawyer on behalf of the trustees.

“Other towns have taken the local paper and converted it to electronic and placed it on the website for all to use,” he said.

Material published after 1922 is copyrighted. The lawyer said Times editions would fall under copyright, he said. The lawyer drafted a letter to be sent to the publisher of the Times requesting permission to digitize the material.

The trustees approved a motion to allow the lawyer to send the letter to the publisher of the Times and to ask for further contact information if someone else holds the copyright.

Most of the historical material in the library is on paper, presenting other problems in preserving and archiving.

The majority of the material was in boxes and simply moved from the old library to the new three years ago, said Trustee Kim King, who is spearheading a project to organize the materials.

The collection is in danger; some of the boxes are moldy.

Some treasures have already been uncovered.

A representative from Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers saw some of the library’s World War I- era posters and said the colors were so bright some of them had never seen the light of day, according to King.

The library owns more than one copy of some of the posters. “We’d like to save the best of what’s there,” she said.

The trustees discussed options for making the collection available to the public with Jamie DiLoreto, the society’s newest board member.

The historical society recently decided to form committees dealing with different areas of concern, he said.

Reaching out to the community, presenting local historical information through partnering with sponsors and increasing visibility through signage and displays is part of the society’s plan.

The library and the historical society could partner in several ways, the group found.

Both are interested in archiving and presenting events for the public.

Representatives of the library could meet with the events committee and the archiving committee forming at the historical society, DiLoreto suggested.

It would be a good way to get more folks interested in the projects and to look for funding, he said.