I’ve used efficient, modern-looking microfilm machines, but not at the main branch of the New York Public Library. The machines there are so temperamental that I half-expect a wise-ass bird poke his head out as if I lived in an episode of “The Flinstones.”
That said, there are few things I enjoy as much as digging through old newspapers and magazines on the hunt for research material. It’s taxing on the eyes, your back gets sore leaning over, you often have to fight threading the damn machine up, and sometimes you don’t get what you came for. Other times, you find things by accident. Oh, those happy accidents.
Along the way, a forgotten world comes alive, especially in the newspapers–advertisements, headlines, stories and pictures. And there are so many writers I’ve never heard of before. Plus, there is the thrill of putting in the time to track things down that you can’t find on-line and there’s so much stuff out there that is not on the web it’s not even funny.
The wife calls me a nerd. Guilty as charged.