I posted this question to the regional library list at the same time that I posted it here.  I got quite 19 responses so I thought it would be worth sharing  some of those thoughts.

Question: should we retain or dispose of old newspapers that have be microfilmed and are acidic, and/or in bad condition?  And space is needed.
Summary of responses.

retain dispose
Academic 2 1
Historians 3 3
Hist. Soc 4 1
Genealogists 2 0
Public Lib 1 1
Conservator 1 0
Total 13 6


Reasons to retain
researchers prefer
loss of microfilm or reader
degradation of microfilm
intrinsic value
our mission is to keep things
better copy or photo from the original
irreversible decision
film may be missing issues
Reasons to dispose
you’ve maintained the intellectual content
Suggestions and thoughts
  • Keep a few important artifacts (Kennedy assassination, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, etc.)
  • Make sure there are films and masters
  • Are the originals being retained elsewhere?
  • Build an addition so you have room
  • Give to another institution or sell on E-Bay
  • Keep a sample to show the condition and thus why you disposed of them.
  • RRLC is embarking on:  digitizing old newspapers from the microfilm
  • Digital files are still considered unstable. Microfilm or fiche are still preferred from a preservation standpoint

Deteriorating newspapers

August 24, 2010

We are in the process of evaluating the space we have left for archives and special collections.  At this point we have shelves full of acidic newsprint in the form of old bound newspapers.  They have all been microfilmed and we don’t let anyone touch them because they are falling apart.

If you are in the same situation, are you committed to keeping them?  Why, or why not?  I know you’re out there. 🙂  As always, any help or ideas you can give.

Back from the summer

August 18, 2010

I’m back in the archives after a summer of birding, loading hay and waiting for calves to be born.  Quite a change.  I know I haven’t be blogging regularly for quite a while, but I’m going to try to get back at it. It tends to help keep me focused and enthusiastic.

This is my fourth day back and I’m focusing on evaluating books to possibly add to our special collections.  There has been a back log in this area since before I started here in 2003. We just got started at it last year.  I’m hoping to get through what’s left before the students return. I don’t have experience in this area, but am enjoying learning as I go.  I’m getting to the point where I can quess if a book has value to us, before I check it online.

We haven’t nailed down a collection policy yet. Until I hear from the powers that be I’m looking for books published in Europe before 1801, in the US before 1840, valued at $350 or of local importance.  I’m using viaLibri.net to look for values.

We picked out all the obviously valuable titles last year. Now I’m getting 2 or 3 volumes per book truck that meet the criteria. It’s always a charge when I run across something special.

I’d be interested to hear if any of you have other criteria for selection, or seeing your collection develop policies for special collections, if you have them.

Here’s to the new academic year. I’m sure it will be a great one!

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