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November 2001


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James Corsaro <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 2 Nov 2001 17:22:53 EST
text/plain (45 lines)
In a message dated 11/2/01 1:52:41 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:

<< computer >>

As they use to say in the Sixties, "Right on!".

As you point out preservation is about more than just fixing up stuff, it is
about making that stuff accessible to the public. Anyone can save a book,
manuscript or, dare I say it, a newspaper. But those individuals cannot make
that stuff available to the public at regular hours everyday of the week.
That accessibility is the most important aspect of preservation. The fact
that Mr. Baker has saved a couple of hundred newspaper volumes or titles in a
barn in Maine does not make those papers accessible. A poor graduate student
in Montana can read the paper on microfilm because it can be multiplied an
infinite number of times. However, that same grad student probably will not
be able to afford to visit the newspaper barn to read it. Besides, is the
barn equipped with staff to assist that student, does it have reasonable
hours of service, does it catalog it's titles on line (not likely with Mr.
Baker who believes that only card catalogs are the answer to access), and so
I am one who is not crazy about using microfilm to read and much prefer to
read the original. However, I am a realist and I know what financial, space
and other limitations libraries around the U.S. suffer, so I use microfilm
happily because I know I may not be able to see it the material otherwise.
Anyone questioning the importance or use of microfilm as a source of primary
materials should visit the Genealogical Society of LDS in Salt Lake City
where an average of over 1000 people use microfilm everyday, or any of the
regional Federal records centers or many other libraries where there are
usually lines of people waiting to use the microfilm machines to search for
historical information.

The other thing that Mr. Baker and those persuaded by his specious pleas
ignore is that the NEH, NHPRC and other state and federal agencies have
funded much more than just microfilm in their preservation programs. Great
amounts of unique and valuable manuscript and printed material has been
deacidified, encapsulated, repaired, re-boxed, re-foldered and had other
preservation work done using these grant funds. An attack on these agencies
funding programs for preservation is a direct threat to these incredibly
valuable programs that have saved countless numbers of very important
research materials for future generations of researchers.

James Corsaro