When voters decide August 7 on the downtown library location, preserving history should be a priority.
In a back room of the current downtown library sits a stack of history. It's history that affects me personally; I helped make it. In those stacks are the early editions of the Renton Reporter from 1995 to 2000.
A librarian showed me the location of the newspapers and told me they had no money to digitize or microfilm the papers (the current practice for most publications since the 1970s). The cost to microfilm papers is between $5 and $6 dollars a page. The Renton Reporter averaged 24 pages an edition.
My questions: If the Piazza location is selected, could those newspapers be thrown away with the reduction of the building size compared to the current location? Conversely, if the library stays over the Cedar River could those newspapers be thrown away during construction? The current location of those newspapers is planned as the new entrance to the proposed Cedar River site.
The first edition of the Renton Reporter was printed by then-publisher Denis Law (now Mayor of Renton). I was the paper's staff photographer from 1997 to 2004. I captured moments of every day life in Renton. Those are among the many historical documents we'd lose if there isn't money or storage for archives.
Other papers including the King County Journal Newspaper were microfilmed. Why not the Renton Reporter?
To this day, I still take time to view the old editions of the Renton Record-Chronicle (bound and microfilm editions). Today's news is tomorrow's history. Not having the early editions of the local newspaper doesn't make sense for people who want to know where we've been.
Because that will help us make decisions about where we're headed.