Roger Charles, librarian for Peabody Township Library, addressed Peabody City Council Monday night about the city funding a project to preserve and archive the city newspapers and historic information going back to the 1870s.
Charles said he had been in touch with Advantage Preservation, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, company, about creating a digital archive program for Peabody’s historic information.
Advantage Preservation not only can preserve hard copies of newspapers and historic items such as photographs and documents, but it can convert microfilm and microfiche to easy-to-use digital files. Peabody Township Library has about 50 spools of film that also are deteriorating with age and use.
“Eventually the newspapers will have to be removed,” Charles said. “The older issues are in such bad shape now that we don’t let the public go through them on their own.
“The microfilm can be difficult to use and it is also a dying technology. It is nearly impossible to buy a new machine or parts anymore,” he added.
The Peabody Gazette-Bulletin is archived online only from 2004 to the present and a paid subscription number is necessary for access.
Advantage Preservation would make all the information from 1878 to the present available to anyone with a computer. The cost of the Advantage Preservation program is $5,590 with a $90 annual maintenance fee. Charles indicated the library does not have the funds necessary to put the program into service, but he felt they could manage to pay the annual maintenance fee.
Through the township, the library receives just less than three mills of taxpayer money a year. The board recently increased the levy from the one mill, on which they funded library operations for the past 10 years.
Charles said he and the board did not know how much tax money they could count on because no one at the county clerk’s office could tell them what the amount would be.
Peabody City Administrator Mac Manning said that he could get some information for the group so that they at least would know where to start to create a budget.
“You won’t be able to prioritize your goals or know how to budget your expenses if you don’t know what your income is going to be,” council member Tom Schmidt said.
Schmidt also relayed the city’s current funding problems for fiscal 2012 and pressing budget issues for 2013, and said he did not feel the council was in a position to promise financial help for this project.
He encouraged Charles and the library board to seek grants and fundraising projects, discuss the issue with the Peabody Community Foundation, or begin a capital fundraising campaign to raise the money locally.
In other business:
- On the council’s instruction, Manning contacted vendors using electricity and water at the city park during summer months. In the past, the city has absorbed vendors’ utility costs. In an effort to reduce spending, the council is considering charging $5 a day or $100 per month hookup fee. The council tabled a decision until the next meeting.
- Peabody Police Chief Bruce Burke announced that Travis Davis had accepted a full-time position with Peabody Police Department at a wage of $14.50 per hour. Davis began work Monday.
- Burke also noted the first round of mowing violation notices had gone out. There will be seven properties for city employees to mow this week. The city will bill the property owner a $100 initial fee and $100 an hour or portion of an hour for the mowing. The city will send new letters each Monday.
- The final meeting in May was changed from May 28 to May 29 because May 28 is Memorial Day.
- Due to the absence of council member Janice Woodruff, discussion on removing or replacing trees downtown was postponed until the next meeting.
- Shane Marler, director of Peabody Main Street and Peabody Economic Development, reported that a prospective new business has reached a lease agreement for the “Walker Building” at 129 N. Walnut St. downtown. He also told the council that potential buyers for Peabody Lanes will meet soon with Sunflower Development Corporation to discuss a lease agreement on the Sunflower Theater building. He reported he is applying for a Kansas Main Street grant for design assistance for new business signs, that Kelly Penner has finished an interior remodeling project on A Little Off the Top and will begin an upgrade soon on the back exterior wall, and that Main Street is working on the fifth annual Operation Celebration for Memorial Day.
- Manning reminded council members the citywide cleanup begins Monday and curbside pickup will be May 11.
- Council members were told that several of diseased pine trees near the entrance to city park will be taken out in the next few weeks.
- Council member Steve Rose announced that the fire department elected Mark Penner fire chief on April 17.
- Council member Tim Peterson reported that Peabody Sausage House has an issue with a low spot in its parking area where the city repaired a water line several years ago. Manning will investigate the situation and make a recommendation at a future meeting.
- Public Works Director Darren Pickens reported on water and sewer line repairs, opening of the city pools and the city park restrooms, resurfacing Peabody Street, and the aging well house at Eighth and Locust streets. The council tabled a decision on plugging that well until the next meeting.
The next meeting of Peabody City Council will be at 7 p.m. May 14 in the city building.