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The delights and secrets of the Trenton Free Public Library

Yesterday, I had the very great pleasure of spending the late afternoon and evening in a dusty, windowless room at The College of New Jersey. My host, Professor Terry Byrne, had generously offered the use of their beautiful dinosaur of a Steenbeck -- one of the last, it seems, in central New Jersey (as Princeton U has just trashed theirs) -- and, more importantly, the expertise to help me relearn it's controls. "Don't worry," he said, "it's like riding a bike."

He was right. It does come back. The sound, the smell, the wonderful tactility of the film, the whack of the splicer. But what doesn't come back is the troubleshooting. It was great he was there.

Our mission: was to go through old cans of 16mm film that Laura Poll, librarian of the Trentoniana Room, and I had found deep in her stacks. Included was a Ralph Steiner (!) industrial about Lenox crystal, pride of Trenton, and wonderful city portraits commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce.

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