[Foundation-l] Old newspapers going to destruction

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Sun Oct 5 06:05:59 UTC 2008

Klaus Graf wrote:
> I fully disagree with Schlottmann.
> 1. Nicholas Baker has shown in its book "Double Fold"
> http://delicious.com/Klausgraf/doublefold that microfilms are not a
> substitution for the original newspapers. And digitization isn't, too.
> 2. National Libraries might have the duty to digitize newspapers but
> if they don't do it or if they cooperate with toll access companies
> like the British Library http://newspapers.bl.uk/? The Public Domain
> belongs to us all!
Of course, scans and microfilms are no substitute for the originals, but 
the one dimension that hasn't yet been mentioned in this thread is that 
newspapers are printed on newsprint, a highly acidic cheap grade of 
paper.  It's expected that once a newspaper has been read it will be 
discarded.  Under those circumstances there is no need to print on high 
quality paper or with pH neutral inks.  Even if you keep this in storage 
it may very well be that when someone finally wants to use it it will 
just crumble in his hands when he tries to pick it up.  Deacidification 
at that point will not reverse the damage;  it will only buffer the 
acids and keep things from getting worse.  Preserving it then may 
require expert archival techniques normally reserved for the most 
valuable of documents, such as page-by-page encapsulation.

I agree with National Libraries having the duty to digitize, but I think 
that the breadth of the task is overwhelming even for a well funded 
library. Unless and until they are willing to trust amateurs to do most 
of the work it will be an impossible task.


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