Out with the old


Here is an opinion piece from the Times on the British Library thowing out old newspapers.\"The past never passes. It simply amasses,\" wrote the American poet Brad Leithauser. Librarians should take this to heart, but the Board of the British Library has decided that it is time to take on the role of winnower and to dispense with part of the piled-up past.\" \"Back in 1992 it authorised the disposal of vast tranches of original historic newspapers, and over the last couple of years foreign papers have begun to leave the national collection at Colindale in North London by the truckload.\"

\"The material that has been \"deaccessioned\" - to use the ugly jargon for this regrettable procedure - ranges widely in time and place, from the beginnings of mass-circulation journalism in America to the end of the Cold War in capital cities behind the Iron Curtain. There are runs of newspapers, both local and national, from pre-Revolutionary Russia, Nazi Germany and occupied France, three of the most scrutinised and controversial times and places in all history, and crucial to our understanding of the 20th century and its barbarities. There are also, of course, obscure papers from places that have not been so intensely studied, and that opportunity too has been pre-empted.\"

\"Many of the runs are not duplicated anywhere else in the world, which is why the vast British Library collection, though not always convenient to use because of its sheer scale, has always been a research collection of last resort. If you can\'t find it anywhere else, try Colindale.\"

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