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Library Talk – June 23, 2016


Ah, the Ripley Bee. Been around for a long time (since 1845). Still looking for issues that we do not have in our collection, still enjoying looking up information to answer queries from far and near.

For current information, of course we have the paper copies here at the library, you can go to www.ripleybee.com and get the selected feature stories, or subscribe to the paper or online version of the Ripley Bee. But….if you wanted to ‘go back in time’ to find something, but weren’t sure exactly when the event happened, it was hours and hours of searching and staring at the screen of the microfilm reader. While fun and somewhat addictive to read the old news, having some sort of index would have made the job easier.  We now have a very cool and awesome tool….the Union Township Public Library/Ripley Bee database!

I apologize for not sharing the Ripley Bee database until now, but I’ll explain why…

This has been a multi-year project of sending small batches of reels of microfilm to a company out in Utah to have them digitalized—alas, this is not an inexpensive endeavor, so we do just a little bit each year. The company that digitalizes the papers also can place the data online so anyone can search, read, save or print out articles that you find.  The link to the database will soon be found in the resources on our webpage at www.ripleylibrary.com.

I am glad we’ve waited awhile to release this tool, as their search engine has really improved in the last year. It searches for the words you enter, and then you can click on the hits and it will bring up the full page.  I recommend you read the help page the first time you use it.  Fair warning, like the microfilm, this can be quite addictive! This database has been very helpful as a massive index, with a very good ability to search by key words and names.

Are all the Ripley Bees on the site? No—as I have said, it is an expensive process, but the majority of our copies of the ‘old’ Bees are. We don’t have the current year microfilmed until the middle of the following year at the earliest, so any recent info is not going to be present (Remember, subscribe to the Ripley Bee!) We did add a few early News Democrat and Castigator reels to fill in for some of the years we have no Ripley Bees.

Are we getting rid of the microfilm?  Absolutely not. This 100+ year old technology still works well, and we have lots of reels of film that we will not be digitalizing. Not everything is ‘online’, but we have now added to the pool of what is available.

I hope you enjoy and use the information—it is ‘our’ history as seen through the over 150 years of the local news. If you wish to have a demonstration or a quick tutorial, please stop in and we’d be glad to show you.

Alison Gibson
Union Township Public Library Director