A grant from Missouri Secretary of State’s office will allow the Mid-Continent Public Library to update its microfilm readers at the Midwest Genealogy Center, allowing patrons to save any microfilm and microfiche information in digital form for personal use.

Secretary of State Jason Kander’s office announced earlier this week that Mid-Continent received a technology grant for $22,633. The Missouri State Library is a division of Kander’s office.

Steve Potter, Mid-Continent’s CEO and library director, said that when the regional library gathered feedback to help design the Genealogy Center, people wanted microfilm readers with printers.

“Then the world started to change, and by the time we opened in (2008) everything was going digital,” he said. “What they want is to scan and digitize census records into their Ancestry accounts.

“The grant allows us to modernize the equipment and update it, make it so we can use if for a longer time.”

Charlotte McIntosh, assistant manager of the Genealogy Center, explained that some of the library’s microfilmed information has already been digitized and can be accessed online elsewhere, but viewing capabilities are limited.

Now, after saving microfilm information onto something like a flashdrive, patrons can view it as they wish. Two of the Genealogy Center’s microfilm readers are connected to computers for digital transformation, and the grant will allow the library to make 15 readers digitally capable.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am,” branch manager Cheryl Lang said. “People don’t want things on paper anymore. It’s efficient. Before people would go print it here, then scan it at home. Let’s just save them the time and trouble.

“This is where we need to be.”

Funds for the secretary of state’s literacy and educational enrichment grants come from the Library Services and Technology Act through the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services – the primary source of federal support for the United States’ 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.

According to a state press release, the Missouri State Library has approved a total of 207 grant applications in the 2015 fiscal year, distributing $1.6 million in federal awards to libraries throughout Missouri.

“It takes taxpayers’ investment (the microfilm readers) and allows us to get another decade or two out of the investment,” Potter said of the grant.

“This grant will enable Mid-Continent Public Library to continue to provide the best resources and services to its patrons,” Kander said in the release. “Improving technology … ensures our libraries are able to better serve their communities and Missouri as a whole.”