Tuesday, April 5, 2016

BAD LIBRARY STORY

So I wanted to look up Cleveland Plain Dealer articles from the early 1970s. Now, I have a University Heights-Cleveland Heights Library card. It's one of the first pieces of I.D. that I got after moving here.

I called my local University Heights-Cleveland Heights Library, and they said, "While we are part of CleveNet, the regional library network, we don't offer access to the Plain Dealer online. You have to use microfilm." So I drove into downtown Cleveland, and got a Cleveland Public Library card (anyone in Cuyahoga County can do so).

But the Cleveland Public Library online services relies on Newsbank, which only carries the Plain Dealer (every day) back to about 1998, and (Mondays only) back to 1986. While that's useful for many things, it isn't what I needed.

I called the University Heights-Cleveland Heights Library again, and asked them if they carried the Plain Dealer on microfilm. They said they did, back to January 1, 1967. Good!

I went to the main branch of the University Heights-Cleveland Heights Library on Lee Road. I went to the Reference Desk and asked where they kept their Newspaper Index. See, until the early 2000s, major periodicals and newspapers were indexed by author and subject matter in a print publication that came out quarterly, and a bound publication yearly. Once newspapers began to be scanned, you didn't need these indexes; the keyword search feature in the online database served that purpose.

Well. The University Heights-Cleveland Heights Library doesn't carry a Newspaper Index for the Plain Dealer any more. I asked the Reference Librarian how anyone could use the microfilm archives they have in the basement if there is no index. "Well, you have to know the date you are looking for." I explained that, absent an index, I couldn't determine that.

Another Reference Librarian had to be called over, and together it took them 10 minutes to determine that the Lorain County Library, the Elyria Library, the Cleveland Public Library (main branch), and the Lake County Library all had the hard-bound Newspaper Index which I needed.

They could not, however, tell me if any of these had the Plain Dealer on microfilm.

The second Reference Librarian said that the Cleveland Public Library had an online database of the Plain Dealer going back to 1845 (the very first issue), but that this database could only be accessed from a Cleveland Public Library branch.

I went to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch of the Cleveland Public Library. I asked the Reference Librarian about the online database of the Cleveland Plain Dealer going back to 1845. The Reference Librarian did not know what I was talking about, and suggested that I go to the Main Branch downtown.

I went downtown to the Main Branch of the Cleveland Public Library. I went to the Reference Desk, and explained what I was looking for. The Reference Librarian did not know about any online database, and tried to find where this Newspaper Index bound volume would be located in their archives, so they could bring it up and I could use it.

Then a second Reference Librarian said, "Don't do that. There is an online, searchable database of the Plain Dealer." The Reference Librarian explained that it was not easily found on the Cleveland Public Library site, and it was not located on the ClevNet site. Affiliated libraries, like the University Heights-Cleveland Heights Library, did not have access to it unless they paid for it (and they have not).

The second Reference Librarian asked if I had a Cleveland Public Library card -- not a University Heights-Cleveland Heights Library card. I explained that I did.

The second Reference Librarian showed me how to access this database from home.

I am now doing so.

I blew my entire day trying to get access to something that should have been explained to me over the phone early this morning.

I'm unhappy.

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