Ottumwa Library's new equipment offers a clear view of the city's past

The Ottumwa Library's new microfilm reader can now be used by the public to view old articles and clippings.

A new piece of equipment at the Ottumwa Public Library will give visitors a clearer glimpse into the past.

The library was the recipient of a $5,520 grant from the Ottumwa Legacy Foundation's Bright Ideas fund. Library Director Sonja Ferrell applied for the grant last October and found out the library was awarded the money in December. The grant money was used to purchase a new microfilm reader, which can be used to view old articles and clippings.

The library's two current readers are still useable, but they are 25 years old and no longer serviceable. The new machine is much more user-friendly. Instead of having to print, articles can be saved as a PDF file. It also allows users to cut and paste pieces together and use the internet at the same time for additional research.

The microfilm reader is in the Iowa/Genealogy Room, which holds important pieces of Ottumwa's history you can't find anywhere else.

"They just have things that are irreplaceable," Ferrell said. "So that's why we don't circulate the items in this room, and why it's so important, because you can't just look up this on the internet and find the answers to what you're looking for."

The microfilm reader can be used from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Next, Ferrell said the library will work on digitalizing and cataloging other items in the Genealogy Room.