The Case Of The Vanishing Records


In reviewing the damage done to the record of the past decades by acidic paper and nitrate film, it is only reasonable to point out that in an era when more was being printed and more images captured than ever before, a great deal will survive. It is also true that, at least temporarily, books which are in private libraries, and which therefore are more lightly used, stand a better chance of surviving than those in our great public collections. Moreover, many volumes that are in constant demand will survive because they are constantly being reprinted. It is possible to argue, finally, that there are many things recorded on both paper and film which are not worth saving. But who is to make the awesome decision about what is to be saved and what is not? Who is to say what will be important tomorrow? Who is to say which crumbling book or magazine or letter might hold the key to our understanding of some phase of our past? It would be a brave man indeed who would venture an opinion.