Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Double Fold from an Archivists’ Perspective

In reaction to Double Fold, Richard Cox, a well known archivist within the archival community wrote Vandals in the Stacks?. Cox breaks down Baker’s argument point by point from an archivists’ perspective. The following comments are from Cox’s chapter “Why Can’t the Paper Keepers Keep all the Paper?”. This chapter addresses Baker’s claim that all newspapers should be saved in their original format. Cox discusses that this is impossible to do for a number of reasons.
1. It is impossible to save every newspaper since big city newspapers publish multiple editions daily and libraries often only receive one edition.
2. Archivists do not have the resources to save every newspaper despite what Baker says.
3. Newspapers were never meant to last forever. The quality of paper that newspapers are published on will deteriorate. According to Cox, Baker’s comments about newspapers not deteriorating have little true basis.
Bottom line is that archivists, like librarians, need to make choices about selection. Given the choice, an archivist is going to choose saving correspondence of an important literary figure over a newspaper. So the alternative is microfilming newspapers.

Some Questions to think about:
What do you think about Baker’s idea of saving everything? Do you agree with Richard Cox’s view or more with Baker’s?
Is microfilming of newspaper all evil as Baker suggests?


Laura Elizabeth said...

Cox brings up some interesting points. Baker's passionate plea to archive newspapers is a bit extreme. How are libraries to pay for the storage? Baker himself pays $26,000 to rent space for his newspapers. How does the library make this money back? Would a newspaper archive even be a worthwhile investment? How many people go in to research the newspapers? Furthermore, even if the newspapers do not deteriorate within the next 100 years, if they eventually wear out, can librarians truly be held accountable for trying to "preserve" and conserve space simultaneously?

Alycia said...

I think this is interesting because at the WI Historical Society, we make every effort we can to collect ALL editions of every paper made in Wisconsin (sometimes to great confusion for the publishers).
However, we are a historical library that attempts to preserve all of the serial matter being produced in Wisconsin today. I don't think that it is necesary that all libraries collect as thoroughly as we attempt to, but I do wonder how many libraries strive to do this as much as we do? Does every state have a library working towards this end?

And, does it matter? Does anyone care if they lose the content of the "Chicago Weekend Edition" of the African-American Newspaper "Citizen" and not the others? Do we care if information is lost if the monetary costs or personal efforts are too great?