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Subject: Future of conservation/preservation funding

Future of conservation/preservation funding

From: Harry Campbell <hcampbel>
Date: Thursday, September 8, 1994
In response to Karen Motylewski's recent posting:

I agree that much about computerization is demoralizing.  It leaves me
resentful of new technology, of those who seem to be intent on
transforming my traditional modes of experiencing life, and of societal
demands (or at least peer pressure) to keep pace with life in the
electronic lane.

Although there have been recent exciting high tech developments in
preservation and reformatting of texts, I have never been able to
imagine a time when books will become obsolete.  After reading recent
articles by Phyllis Franklin, Michael Gorman, Bernard Sharrett, G.
Thomas Tanselle, Michelle Valerie Cloonan, Ruth Perry (especially), and
Nicholson Baker I'm convinced there will always be a place in the mind,
in the heart, and in the hands for books.  The question is, will there
be a place on the library shelves?

If it happens that books continue to be published, collected, used, and
preserved, where will the books be kept?  Unless collection holding
institutions become more selective in acquisitions and more forthright
in de-selection we will certainly find our stacks, our depositories and
warehouses, basements and attics, and every nook and cranny filled to
the point where physical preservation is impossible and illogical.
Institutions will, by default, rely more and more on high tech
strategies to provide basic services and to replace bulky books--as the
only space left to store information will be electronic "space".

For now, if we would emerge from the "fun with computers" mentality long
enough to focus on the real value and practicality or our book
collections, in all their physical splendor and decay, we can probably
find enough good reasons to justify their selective physical
preservation.  After all, there has been substantial progress made in
this direction as evidenced by the number of in-house
maintenance/conservation facilities set up in recent years and
grant-funded training programs in New York, California, and in regions
across the country.  Although it may not be easy to convince the
powers-that-be, or the tax-payers, that physical maintenance and
conservation is worth funding, it may be just as difficult--and perhaps
a bit disingenuous--to piggyback this issue with computerization.

There are probably many books which should be allowed to disappear.  And
probably many more to come which would find more appropriate
manifestation in some electronic form only.  Lets hope computers can be
harnessed to the task of producing and storing information in a way that
lightens the burden on resources required to print and preserve other

Harry Campbell
Ohio State

                  Conservation DistList Instance 8:19
               Distributed: Wednesday, September 14, 1994
                        Message Id: cdl-8-19-006
Received on Thursday, 8 September, 1994

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