Time Travel at the Library


I went to the downtown Seattle Public Library the other day to do something that felt like I was traveling back in time. I used a microfiche machine to get an old journal article. Who thinks of microfiche in the age of the Web? Yet the journal article, dated back only to 2002, was unavailable online. Lo and behold, though, the library is blending high- and low (or at least dated)-tech. If you bring a USB memory stick, you can download material from the microfiche and upload it directly to your personal computer -- without paying any copy fees. King County Superior Court, are you listening? Not unlike some other courts around the state, King County charges 25 cents a page to copy court documents from its online system, an exorbitant fee when you consider that it’s poor people who frequently interact with the court system and that case files typically comprise dozens or even hundreds of pages. At the library, even if you don’t have a USB memory stick at your disposal, copies cost 10 cents a page.

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