Thursday, June 7, 2012

Searching for Ideas In The Reels

Like the song says, "everything old is new again". If you are telling a story and that story has a history you might want to take your camcorder to the library. If you are doing a citizen journalism or activist piece this is a great place to check out.

For those of your born after 1990 this is a video of what a microfilm machine looks like and how to load it.

A few weeks ago I hit the stacks in the basement of a library. That is where the microfilm and microfiche machines are stored. I wanted to research how women were presented in newspapers and magazines back in the day. I got a lot of great story ideas that I would like to make into projects.
  • Ads that targeted a woman's looks
  • How goods and services were sold to women
  • Service articles i.e. "what you should know or how to do it"
  • How they were missing from major news articles unless they were in a crime story.
There are some challenges. You library may not have a functional microfilm/fiche reader any more. Sadly a number of libraries are getting rid of the machines.

Lighting is going to be dicey too. You might be in a dark cavern or in florescent city. You will be very dependent of the quality of the bulb in the machine. There could be crud on the screen or on the film.

Loading the reels is an act of patience.  Newbies might want to stick with microfiche to get the hang of it. Other than that it is rock and roll.

What Else? 

There are some copyright issues. The copy of the microfilm/fiche is copyrighted by the original recording company, if they still exist. Then you have to look at the copyright of the publication.

Depending on the age of the news and magazines materials these could be in the public domain.  You can write down the details and then give it a try with Public Domain Sherpa's Calculator for U.S. works and for those in the E.U. try out the one at Europeania

So if you are up to it go physically into your local library and see what stories you can find.

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