On 10/14/2011 9:17 PM, foundation-l-request(a)lists.wikimedia.org wrote:
However archiving is rather different from what we are
which is more focused on books and other mass market material rather
than say old planning application maps and minutes of the union of
postal workers 1937.
Exactly so. Old mass market material tends to be thrown out
when it gets
wet, dusty or is in the way, torn up to line drawers, and otherwise
casually treated. It is just this sort of treatment that makes a very
old mass market work valuable - as it may be the only surviving copy of
a large production run.
In my family they've tended to regard 100 year old school textbooks as
having high value. But what of a 100 year old newspaper? Unless it was
of direct concern it is long gone. Newspapers come and go. If that
newspaper or the local library kept archival copies they will be on
microfilm by now.
You'd think that a newspaper morgue would still have original
photographs or negatives of events less than 50 years old - but that is
rarely the case. Unless something at the time of creation was flagged as
having special value it might be thrown out within the year. So (for
example) a photo of Sargent Schriver taken in 1954 when he was a member
of the Chicago Board of Education might have been published in a local
newspaper - but the original negative destroyed within a year or two.
Therefore that newspaper could not republish that same photo several
years later when he became the first director of the Peace Corps in
1961, much less in his obituary this year (unless they extracted it from
the microfilm copy of the published paper).
Going forward, this sort of information will potentially have a longer
life as digital data storage contains more and more recent history, but
the gatekeepers and preservationists will control access to much of that
material. A website I helped create in 1995 was captured by the IA in
1996 (and many times since), but that first capture has already been
destroyed due to a backup failure.