Perhaps you saw the column from Dwight Bitikofer in last week’s Webster-Kirkwood Times, in which he noted that the paper is going into its 40th year of production. That’s quite a run for a newspaper which seems to have been started by a group of kids who got together and said, ‘Hey, let’s make a newspaper!’ That may be imposing a little too much of a movie plot on the beginning of the paper, but it’s a movie I’d like to see.
The success of the paper, as far as I can tell, has been remaining loyal to the communities it serves, telling their stories, treating their tragedies with compassion and their triumphs with joy. I read the Times first thing when I get into my office every Friday morning, to know what’s going on in town.
I don’t know if this is just coincidence, or part of a larger plan, but earlier this summer, Dwight Bitikofer began donating his own personal archive of the paper to the library. We are about 3/4 of the way through sorting and organizing this massive bunch of papers. We are missing very few issues. It is an amazing source of our town’s history over the past 40 years.
There are stories about our schools, our churches, our neighbors, our local businesses and other institutions; about snowstorms and droughts; about local personalities, celebrities, authors, artists, politicians, and more. The coverage of sometimes notorious crimes with a Webster Groves or Kirkwood connection has been thorough and fair. There are stories about proposed projects that came to fruition, and way too many that never did.
Soon we will figure out the final disposition of the papers, how they will be filed and made accessible to our patrons. In the meantime, if you’re interested, drop by our Reference Room and take a look at some back issues. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.