Archive for Wednesday, January 12, 2000

Woman transfers history to computer

January 12, 2000

Although genealogical information that normally is housed at the Tonganoxie Public Library temporarily is checked out, library director Beckie Borella says any inconvenience is minimal.

And any fuss over the genealogical information is blown out of proportion, the director says.

Tonganoxie resident Connie Putthoff began work several weeks ago on transferring the information in the library births, deaths and weddings from about 25,000 index cards onto computer disk. At first, Putthoff was taking home a file at a time from the library. But then she realized that some cards were out of order. So she thought it would be more efficient to take the entire wooden cabinet that contains thousands of cards. As she goes, Putthoff is organizing the files.

"I don't have a problem with her taking the cabinet," said Borella. "What is the big fuss over this? She's working really hard on them, and it's coming along."

In last week's edition of The Mirror, Mary Frances and Harold Krull questioned the prudence of allowing Putthoff to take home the cards and cabinet.

Putthoff said she intends to return both, once she's completed the project. In addition, she'll give computer disks to the library that contain all of the information on the paper files.

At a meeting of the library board last week, the issue of the files and cabinet was discussed, Borella said.

"The board said, 'Beckie is the director, and she made a decision and we're backing her up,'" Borella said. ''They did suggest that next time to have the board decide so that it would be their fault, not mine. I had had no idea this would happen. I thought it was pretty simple and a good thing. But it's turned into a disaster."

In a letter submitted to The Mirror, Jean Lenahan, who is Borella's mother, alleged that the library board violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act by moving up the time of the 7 p.m. meeting on Wednesday by an hour. The change was made, Borella said, because Mayor John Franiuk wanted to attend a 7 p.m. planning commission meeting.

Putthoff's project is causing some inconvenience, Borella said, but it's worth it. In addition, she said, Putthoff's work would tie up a computer at the library if she weren't working at home.

"When people come in here and they want to know about so and so, they freak out a little bit," she said. "And I tell them that all you have to do is call Connie Putthoff and here's her number. Or I'll call and she looks it up and it's no big deal."

Putthoff said she's completed the births, and the library now has a disk containing those. In addition, she's made it through the letters A and B in the death files. She said she'll likely hang onto all of the death files until she's completed the alphabet.

Tonganoxie resident Janice Seymour has offered to handle the marriage cards.

"I'm really glad because it takes awhile to do it," Putthoff said. "However, I'm willing, and it's fun and it's bringing back history."

Putthoff said she and Nora Skaggs originally compiled the cards, based on information gleaned from The Tonganoxie Mirror.

Ultimately, Putthoff said, she'd like the information to be available to a wider audience to people who visit the library's website.

"Of course, if there's any money to be made off of this, I would like this to go to the Friends of the Library or to the library itself," she said.

For now, she's working on the cards in her spare time.

She guessed that the entire project could take her 120 hours. She said she hopes to be done in several months.

"I'm not keeping track of hours," she said. "Don't hold me to that give or take 10 or 20 hours."

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