On Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 11:02 AM, Andrew Gray <shimgray(a)gmail.com> wrote:
It's not so much the preferred option - I doubt
they actually *want*
to do it - as the only practical option.
If you have no institution willing to take them off your hands, then
you can either continue to spend resources on storing a collection
no-one wants, or you can free up the space and do something useful
with it. Digitisation will free up the space eventually (since you can
junk them afterwards), but it's expensive - who's going to pay for it?
Will the library have to store them for the next five years whilst
they're digitised? Who takes on the ongoing costs of maintaining the
I should have listed more options! Burning is striking as such a
symbolic action: You're not just putting them in the trash, or in a
recycle bin, you're destroying them at a chemical level so that they
can never be reused or reclaimed. Probably won't even generate any
electricity from the situation.
A better option (in my estimation) would be to put up a website or
some kind of notice: "These papers must go! Pay shipping and we'll
send them anywhere. Come by with a truck and we'll give you all you
can carry. Within a reasonable time limit, we will do anything to save
these papers that isn't a drain on our time or budget". This is
different from us finding out through a mailing list that the papers
are on their way to the fires.
It's a truism in the library world that the only
time anyone makes a
noise about caring about a book is when you try to get rid of it. This
seems to be a classic example.
I would say that it's hard to care about something you don't know
about. I didn't know that this collection of papers even existed until
the email telling us about the fire solution. You are right though,
knowing that a historical resource exists somewhere is not nearly so
positive as knowing that it won't exist anymore is a negative. I
personally am driven by the motivation that the people who might care
about it the most aren't even born yet, my children who won't have
access to these papers, no matter how much my generation has ignored
them. Preserving for future generations is a cause that only needs to
be taken up for things which are not being well-preserved (or not
being preserved any longer).
Unfortunately, since I don't have a big fat checkbook, or any close
contacts who do, it's a moot point. Money is the driver of all things,
and if Money wills it, the papers will end up in the fire.