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November 2001


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Tom Perrin <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 31 Oct 2001 14:39:09 -0500
text/plain (57 lines)
My two cents.

There is ample documentation and evidence for the inappropriate
de-accession of public documents and rare books by libraries.  I have
seen with my own eyes and purchased with my own funds extremely valuable
books de-accessioned for pennies (Literally) because the books were to
be microfilmed, discarded for space, available on cd-rom, etc. I do this
with both joy and sadness.  Joy because I have retrieved and preserved a
bit of our culture, and sadness because society's guardians could not
and did not properly fulfil the trust that was given to them.

If nothing else, when libraries are so strapped for funds, one would
think that they
could obtain better prices for the items they dump on the market, or
worse, on the street.

The fact also remains that few librarians are taught anything at all in
library school about rare books, special collections or book
preservation.  Books are are too often considered little more than
commodities by library staffers. Yet to historians, genealogists,
collectors and the like, these same books have significant monetary and
cultural value despite being "ex-lib".  Were it not for collectors
assigning a monetary value to these items, they could very well
disappear from our cultural heritage for all  time.

As for acidic newsprint, we have debated this issue on this list
before.  I have in my own collection a set of newspapers from the
Trenches of World War I France, produced under battle conditions.  I
bought them in a shop for $8 over 30 years ago.  They were very fragile
then, and may hardly withstand another viewing now. Yet I keep them,
because I believe that they are intrinsically valuable.  They may well
be the only copies extant for all I know. I believe that I shall keep
them until they turn to dust.

Tom Perrin
Ardent documentarian and preservationist.

"Pullen, Sharon" wrote:
> Chris,
>         Newsprint is one of the most acidic, brittle types of paper in
> existence.  Most of the academic/archival/library community is well aware of
> problems with microfilm quality control that existed in the past.  Before
> you accept Mr. Baker's decidedly subjective (if not biased) viewpoint, you
> should consult some others who are real archivists and librarians not
> authors with an ax to grind and a profit to be made from publicity.
> Sharon A. Pullen, CA
> Suffolk County Archivist
> Historical Documents Library
> Office of the County Clerk
> 310 Center Drive
> Riverhead, NY 11901-3392
> Phone: 631-852-2015
> Email: [log in to unmask]