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Subject: Microfilm box labels

Microfilm box labels

From: Robert J. Milevski <milevski>
Date: Monday, June 1, 1992
Thanks to both Marcia Watt and Leslie Reicher for responding to my and
Jan Merrill-Oldham's concerns about the longevity of the stickiness of
the foil-backed microfilm box labels offered by University Products.  A
sticky issue no doubt?  Now that there are antithetical answers to the
query, I would say that it reflects life in all its glory and diversity.
Long live life.  Long live Mendel and Darwin.  Long live the labels.

What have we to account for this disparity of experience, for this
discouraging and diverging, but expected, preservation fricassee?  Is it
simply the storage conditions under which the boxes and labels (and
films! oh,dear!) are housed at different institutions?  Do the labels
survive better in preservation poor environments or preservation
enriched environments?  (Or should we say preservation fortified,
vitamin P?  Do we want high fiber or osteoporosic environments?)  Is it
the difference in the board the boxes are composed of and their coated
or uncoated surfaces?  (Real slick, eh? Does alkalinity in the board
shorten the tackiness of the label adhesive?)  Is it a matter of how the
items are pressed/boned to the box surface?  (Is it a wimpy swipe at the
label with its backing paper after the label is applied to the box
versus a full-court press thru a piece of paper with a folder with the
box flat on a hard surface?)  Is the pressure-sensitive adhesive simply
pooh-pooh? There are undoubtedly other factors, eg, warm hands, cold
heart; cold hands, warm heart.

Preservation is a paradox, although a pair of ducks would be would have
a bit more life and intelligence to them.  Or, perhaps it is all a nod
to the sixties and seventies when everything and everyone did not want
to be labeled; we tried, unsuccessfully, to shed the armor of our
disgusting, but comfortable and bankable, milieus back then; or as Frank
Zappa said to someone in the audience at one of his concerts from that
time zone,  "Everyone in this room is wearing a uniform, man."

Certainly scientific testing (of any product for preservation purposes)
is taken only half seriously by any of us when it is done by some
reputable outfit or person.  [Half of us, if that, accept the
conclusions, with skepticism and relief, for we have too many other
issues to deal with to spend anymore time on this one thing; the other
half of us, if that, cynically and joyfully point out the fallacies in
the testing method, protocol, and results (because none of it supports
our own indisputable, not based on facts, theses about the product) and
whine how we would have done it better: the world's foremost
authorities.]  Who will pay for and send these labels to the Institute
of Paper Science and Technology?  And even then too many people will
roll their eyes into their heads at the results.  And then again, does
intense scrutiny of this product deserve our attention?  I would like
nothing better to do with my time than to try and match up popped labels
with de-labeled boxes, especially when there are hundreds or thousands
of them littering our storage vault floor.  At least we can take comfort
that these labels will last for a long time despite their attachment to
anything substantial, other than our hearts.

There is also a place for anecdotal evidence in this quagmire, although
anecdotes become jokes in their own right after a passage of time, or
they are taken so seriously at all times that only concerned and intense
looks and the sage nodding of heads will suffice to confirm the truth(?)
the sayer is conveying.

What are we to do about this?  All those of you who will simply buy
these microfilm box labels because they are finally available in the
correct size, regardless of their current seaworthiness, please stand at
your terminals, smile secretly or sweetly, and test the breeze with a
wet finger tip.  You others, take heart and solace in the longevity of
the argument and respond to this message.

Very truly yours in schist (for those of you who follow my op-eds in
this column).

                   Conservation DistList Instance 6:1
                   Distributed: Friday, June 5, 1992
                        Message Id: cdl-6-1-007
Received on Monday, 1 June, 1992

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