Events, Ponderings

My bittersweet adieu to the Journal

Today the Journal Tribune will publish it’s last issue, and then cease to be. I read Drew McMullin’s farewell essay in this yesterdays edition, and it revived the lump that has been in my throat since I learned our newspaper is being tossed. Why? Because it is not a moneymaker, and that is all that matters. I have to admit, I’m pretty upset and so very sad about this whole situation. Biddeford is doing amazing things, and has been doing everything right, and still we couldn’t save our local paper…of course I wonder if we had a fair chance to fight for it. Pay up or else, I guess.

But I’m going to try and keep my disappointment and accusations to myself, because the purpose of me writing this is a need to say something good. I need to convey my deep appreciation for the Journal Tribune, in all its forms, and for all the Journal staff who have ever served our community.

To the past and current staff of the Journal: Do you know that we use your work almost every day at the library? Do you know that we all rely on the work you’ve done to tell the innumerable stories of our city? Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, accidents, fires, triumphs, mysteries, successes, defeats, they are all there, and always have been. Do you know how often the words “Let’s check in the Journal” or some variation of which, have been and are uttered by the librarians of Biddeford? I can only imagine it has ever been so.

We have relied on you, and we are afraid of a future without you. There’s room in the out-of-town papers for the big Biddeford and Saco stories, but what about the little ones? Will the free weekly that is supposed to suffice have room enough amongst the all-important ads for all the little things that make our towns home? When people pass away will their loved ones still have an affordable option to have an obituary printed? I know from experience that a Press Herald obit costs quite a bit more than the Journal did – hundreds of dollars for a modest sized remembrance. Will people in Biddeford and Saco and surrounding towns be able to afford to have their loved ones remembered one last time?

What about in 10 years, or 20 years, when someone wants to learn about the how and why of our choices today in Biddeford – Saco? Will they be able to find that information locally, for free? Or will they have to pay an online service? Or will they have to go to Portland? Or Augusta? Can you even get to Augusta from here without a car?? I don’t know that you can, not easily anyway.

The thing is, our community newspaper is not just a business, it is NOT all about dollars and cents. It is so much more than that, it is the living memory of all of us, in a format that is almost universally accessible. It’s the memory of me, and you, and my kids, and your kids and grandkids. It is our grandparents, or the grandparents of your neighbors up the street, or of all the folks that have lived in your building or your block. It’s all the honor rolls, playoff games, new businesses, and programs at the libraries.

I am so grateful to all of the amazing editors and reporters that I’ve come to know over my 13 years here at the library. I am so sorry that your hard work has come to this, and I promise you that we will keep your words and images alive. I promise that we will do our best to care for and preserve the Journal Tribune and make it accessible to all forever. I wish I could do more. I’m glad I have it within my power to do something, at least.

Thank you for being a part of my story. I won’t forget you.

Neat finds and fun stories, Ponderings

Quote-of-the-Day: a story

A patron called up recently with the following question: “when did the quote of the day start running in the local newspaper?”

What a challenging, awesome question! I got to work to see if I could track this info down*…and what I learned was so interesting that I decided it was worth sharing.

What I found was that the Quote of the Day first appeared in the Biddeford Daily Journal on November 13, 1922. It was originally called “Thought for the Evening”, and the very first one was a quote by Sir Francis Bacon (see below).

I was curious, why then? What happened to spur the paper to print something like this each day? In looking at the prior day’s paper, I found what seems to be the answer…Armistice Day. The prior day’s paper honored Armistice Day, and there were numerous events around Biddeford and Saco…after all, the war had only ended 4 years prior.

The scars were not yet healed from the War to End All Wars. And so, perhaps it was this need to reflect that inspired the publisher of the Journal to include a daily quote from that day forward.

*Librarianship Nerds! You wanna know how I found it?? I started with the earliest decade I knew had a daily quote (1940’s) and then looked at microfilm from each decade, starting at 1899 earliest, and moved inward in increasingly smaller chunks of time (decades, to 5 years, etc.) from those ends until I zeroed in on the date. It took awhile. Library work is for people who like to solve puzzles and is definitely not for quitters!

Events, Resources

JOURNAL TRIBUNE OBIT INDEX!

So you are trying to locate an obituary that may have appeared in the Journal Tribune? Did you know that if it is 1977 or later, you can search online??

Yes friends, it’s true! At Goodall Library’s Online Obituary Index, you can search for obituaries which would have appeared in the Journal Tribune from 1977 to Present (they have much more to offer as well, you can read all about it on their site). They have created a simple, user-friendly index where you can see the name and age of the deceased, as well as the newspaper and date on which their obit appeared. With that information, you can contact or visit the library of your choice to access a copy of the obituary.

[We here at McArthur Library would like to officially announce that we think the folks at L.B. Goodall Library in Sanford are, well, amazing.

Wayne and Garth

Thank you for your hard work! You guys ROCK!]

New Stuff

Amateur newspaper exhibit launched!

Folks, the library is pleased to unveil a new online exhibit featuring amateur newspapers from around the United States. “What, pray tell, is an amateur newspaper?” you say. Well Dennis R. Laurie, Reference Specialist of Newspapers and Periodicals at the American Antiquarian Society, defines them as such:

An amateur journal is a periodical created to afford pleasure to its readers as well as to its editor and its publisher. The rage to publish, rather than profit, is the motive that most often induces people to become amateur journalists; and, throughout the history of the genre, most but not all amateur journalists have been juveniles.

Our collection is small but respectable, showcasing the publishing aspirations of young amateurs from all corners of the U.S. as well as Prince Edward Island, Canada. The collection was amassed by a Biddeford boy named Walter Perkins, who at age 14 was so inspired by South Boston’s “Dew Drop” he decided to create his own newspaper, “The Snow-Flake”. Perkins, who went on to become a successful comedic actor on the vaudeville circuit, created a paper full of wit and jokes. Other papers are humorous as well, while others take a more serious tone and more closely try to mimic a traditional paper.

Woodcuts created for the Corn City's Compliments Christmas supplement, Toledo, Ohio, 1873.
Woodcuts created for the Corn City’s Compliments Christmas supplement, Toledo, Ohio, 1873.

Most of the papers are from 1873, but there are a few from later years, as well as a modern local “pocket” journal that was donated by creator who had heard of the Perkins collection. Another interesting note is the scarcity of illustrated papers. It must have been more difficult to produce an illustrated paper, though not impossible: the Corn City’s Compliments (Toledo, Ohio) produced an 1873 Christmas Supplement full of caricatures of other amateur paper editors (see illustration).

View the AMATEUR NEWSPAPER EXHIBIT at <walterperkins.omeka.net>

View the PERKINS COLLECTION FINDING AID at <mcatablog.wordpress.com/finding-aids/>

The exhibit, which will be up indefinitely, consists of a selection of papers from every coast of the United States and from across the vast interior as well. While there are contributions positively identified as written by girls, most if not all of the papers appear to be edited/produced by boys.

What I find personally fascinating about this collection is how it correlates to the the Zine movement of D.I.Y. self-publishing *as well as* the current explosion of self-publishing made possible via electronic media of all shapes and sizes. From the 1870’s to the 1970’s and today, young people have utilized the means available to communicate their thoughts and ideas to one another and the greater public.  I love the idea of these idealistic and creative young adults through the ages making their voices heard via newsprint, xerox, blogging software…the interconnectedness of this urge to communicate en masse, by generation upon generation. The idea of it fascinates me, and I hope it gets you thinking as well.

***For those interested in the technical specs, the library used Omeka’s totally fabulous platform to produce the exhibit.***