The hourglass and the book depicted above represent a challenge that is now being answered by a new program funded by the Collectors Club of Chicago and carried out by the American Philatelic Research Library.
The program, called Project PAPER, will endeavor to rescue and preserve the information contained in books journals, government documents, and other forms of philatelic literature that are disintegrating as a result of deterioration of the acidic paper on which they were originally printed. Data will be stored on an optical-disk system.
"Philately, though a hobby concerned with little pieces of paper, has seen fit to put much of its literature on the cheapest paper available," said Gini Horn, APRL Director. At the General Meeting of the American Philatelic Society on May 30 at World Columbian Stamp Expo '92, Les Winick, President of the CCC, presented Gini with a check for $15,000 to launch Project PAPER. The grant will fund personnel costs for a one-year trial of the project. The APRL will provide the optical scanner (purchased in 1991 with a gift from Bernard and Dodie Hennig of Chicago), optical disks, and acid-free paper for printing out copies of any of the stored data.
Not only will the information be permanently stored after scanning, and as many copies as needed printed out but the original items also will have a longer life as they will no longer be handled by researchers, who can consult a copy or the stored image.
Also, rare documents will become more accessible as a result of this method, which will allow many scanned copies to become available to potential users. The APRL has numerous rare items of philatelic literature that cannot be lent because of their fragile condition, their rarity and monetary value, and difficulty of replacement. The first materials to be considered will be U.S. Government Documents of the late 19th Century.
"We will continue to do all we can to preserve the literature itself, in the original," said Gini, "but anyone with an interest in philatelic research will surely agree that preserving the information will be an invaluable gift to our hobby!"
The APRL Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept, with thanks, this generous grant from the Collectors Club of Chicago. Project PAPER's first employee is now at work setting up the logistics of the operation, and beginning to scan materials.