OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Public Library is the recipient of a Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund Grant from the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation.
The Friends of the Ottumwa Public Library group gave $5,520 to put toward a new microfilm reader. The Legacy Foundation then matched the funds, making it possible for the library to purchase the upgraded equipment for the Iowa/Genealogy room. The machine is hooked up to a new computer and monitor that were purchased with some of the library's memorial money.
"The Legacy Foundation chooses a recipient three times a year. We applied last October, and we were selected in late fall," explained Ottumwa Public Library Director Sonja Ferrell. "It took us a while to get the machine in and set up and the staff trained before we announced it to the public."
The Iowa/Genealogy room is filled with historical information about Iowa, Wapello County and Ottumwa that dates back to the 19th century. Library patrons are able to sign in to use various materials in the room; however, none of the books may be checked out because many objects have become very fragile due to age.
According to Ferrell, the Iowa/Genealogy room is very popular, especially in the summer months when families with Ottumwa roots may be traveling through. The room is also used for many school projects and is a popular site for kids to learn about the rich and interesting history of the city as well as some of its most influential residents such as Peter G. Ballingall, who helped make the infamous Coal Palace a reality.
"Recently, a group of third-graders came in doing some research of Peter Ballingall, one of Ottumwa's forefathers, and they got very excited because we had some information in a scrapbook about Peter Ballingall," said Ferrell.