03 August 2014


My employer, the Harold B. Lee Library, recently participated in #5daysofpreservation.

(Best aprons ever, btw).

I probably communed with the 5 days of preservation tumblr for an hour everyday while it was still going on. There was a gamut of preservation--everything from book repair to environmental monitoring to digital preservation. My favorite post was of these libros cartoneros at Harvard:

Since I'm so enthusiastic about preservation, a lot of people have asked me how we know we're collecting and preserving the "right" things. What is the logic of amassing a large amount of stuff in a library and spending a lot of resources to baby it--how do we know what is really important or what will be useful to future generations? In the 21st century, is this whole library thing a futile human activity? Maybe some preservation makes sense, but isn't it generally excessive? At the Lee Library, there are curators who decide what to collect and which items should get conservation.

As a student tech, I'm a cog in a preservation machine--a happy cog! I think I'll always prefer to help fix individual items to tackling library systems on a grander scale. But I can offer this: although professionalizing the collection or care of library items is a 20th/21st century thing, we've needed libraries since Alexandria. We still need them. It's irresponsible not to provide preservation when it's within our ability.

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