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December 2000


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"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 5 Dec 2000 10:36:16 -0500
"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
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Don Rittner <[log in to unmask]>
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On point 11, I looked into acquiring copies of local Troy newspapers from
Michigan.  The total price for the nine newspapers was $61,859.74.  Ouch!
Can you say scam?  I knew you could!  Considering that many of these papers
were given FREE to the microfilming companies in exchange for copies of the
microfilm, I consider this highway robbery.

I don't agree with your assessment on digital photography.  The technology
is getting very good and many professional photographers who share your
values on quality are migrating over to it (they better if they want to
continue their career - a former head of the New York State Photographer's
Association is now a mail man).  Someone here mentioned that the reason we
want the documents is for the information contained within, not necessarily
the paper it is printed on (that can be debated I'm sure with paper
preservationists), so if we can extract the information exactly as printed,
OCR it, and lift out the images perfectly, then what's the problem?


> From: "Thomas W. Perrin" <[log in to unmask]>
> Reply-To: "A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State
> history." <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 18:02:31 -0500
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Cross post from a hard-copy discarder
> Phil Lord wrote:
>> While the stories of how repositories are dealing with surplus newspapers is
>> interesting, I would love to see a down and dirty debate about the values and
>> norms that lie behind the urge to preserve these collections, even when
>> "virtual" versions of them are readily available.
>> It may get metaphysical, but do we dare take off the blinders and examine our
>> own culture of collections management, just to see where it goes?
> And Tom replies:
> No metaphysics at all, just ignorance and arrogance. From my own
> collections, I have discovered that my research, acquisition and
> de-accession needs have changed radically over the years.  What I once
> thought unimportant and of now lasting value, today I would pay big
> bucks to have in front of me.  By the same token, much of what I earlier
> thought was valuable is common and unimportant for me to retain.
> The point is that values and needs change due to differing perceptions
> over time. I would have gladly dumped my child's toy of ten years ago in
> the dumpster, but golly gee, I just sold it a few days ago on eBay for
> $415!
> I have several problems with microfilm:
> 1. the microfilm is out of focus
> 2. the microfilm does not capture data near the gutter of the bound
> volume
> 3. the microfilm has varying degrees of contrast from one end of the
> frame to the other
> 4. the microfilm is scratched from usage
> 5. the microfilm master is destroyed and first generation copies are no
> longer available
> 6. the microfilm is not in color
> 7. the microfilm has print-through (print from the reverse side shows
> through)
> 8. the microfilm cannot capture watermarks, recover palimpsests
> (erasures)
> 9. the microfilm cannot be adjusted after filming for polarization,
> infra-red or ultra-violet examination
> 10. the microfilm copy does not have the same reproducible value as a
> copy made with a higher quality camera.
> 10. examination of the microfilm cannot determine authenticity of the
> underlying document.
> 11. He who owns the master film controls the price, accessibility and
> availability of the information contained.  Finding out who owns the
> master film and who can make copies is somewhat problematical, even
> assuming that the master film is available to make copies in the first
> place. If the owner of the master film, or any one working for the
> owner, has unresolved control issues I may be denied access to the
> information.
> 12. Ownership of any one roll of microfilm does not guarantee access.
> If a particular roll is in heavy demand locally, it will not be
> available for inter-library loan, or if available, will only be
> available for a limited period of time.  The only alternative is to buy
> one's own roll.
> Now, as to digitization:  the technology used to digitize documents, as
> sold by Canon and others for megabucks, actually consists of a low end
> digital camera as defined by pixel image, and may only be available in
> black and white. It's fine for preserving images at high speed provided
> that they are all digitized on exactly the same plane.  That is just
> hunky dory for checks or the Congressional Record, but to the archivist
> who desires quality equal to the value of the underlying original, it
> just ain't good enough.
> I prefer my digital or film copies to be hand-crafted, of high quality,
> and made by a person who values the end image as highly as he does the
> underlying product.  With both digital and film cameras, such care and
> quality cannot ever be guaranteed sufficiently to warrant the
> destruction of the underlying object. It is more likely, in fact, that
> the images when made, will be made by someone who cares very little for
> either the final image or the underlying object.
> Tom Perrin
> East Windsor, NJ