Get LISNews via email! Enter Your Email Address:
Requests for veterans’ records pour in to the National Personnel Records Center at a rate of 6,000 a day. But the records center, a massive warehouse in St. Louis, is ill-equipped to handle the demand. In an age when agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration can share electronic records almost instantly, the National Personnel Records Center still operates much as it did when it opened in 1955. . . On average, it takes workers at the records center 54 days to respond to written requests for records. But sometimes it takes years.
This interesting feature from ABC News takes a detailed look at the issues surrounding the need to preserve the mass of information now being produced in digital form. It looks at efforts made by the Library of Congress and initiatives such as The Internet Archive to find ways of capturing this part of our cultural heritage and storing it for posterity. An excellent story with lots of useful links.
\"If somebody were to try to write a dissertation today about the Web in 1994, say, they would be hard-pressed to find the kind of archival primary materials that they\'d want.\"
\"In 20 years, we will try to find first editions of their works, and we will look for their papers on the market,\" she says. \"If they have stuff on disk, and we collect their disks, that means we have to have technology to be able to read their disks. … We\'re still buying Mark Twain letters. We haven\'t really grappled with somebody from the 90s yet.\"
The collection — three million pounds of material, ranging from the original 1654 Dutch sales slip for the purchase of Coney Island, to a trove of stereoscopic Victorian pornography assembled by an antivice crusader — has weathered centuries of profound neglect. It has been appallingly lodged in a succession of makeshift spaces, including a city pier and the attic of a fire-prone pizza parlor. . .an improbable thing has happened as archivists have made these records available to scholars in recent years: New York City\'s history has been rewritten.
Ryan writes: \"Interesting article from front page of (the early edition, the one I bought at the subway station on Saturday afternoon) Sunday\'s New York Times on the burying of the Bettmann photo archives in Pennsylvania for the remote/merely-theoretical(?) enjoyment of the generations to come. Raises the question of archives for archives\' sake, why have \'em if we can\'t use \'em, private property vs. public\'s claim on cultural legacy. I didn\'t know much about the state of the Bettmann archives before I read this--
Good Ol\' slashdot pointed me to This
article from the San Francisco
Chronicle on The remains of the fabled 1960\'s
Free Speech Movement.
They have 35,000 pages online now. They say
the text has been entered by hand by workers in India.
Check out the
FSM-A Site to
see what you missed in the 60\'s.
This weekend was also the FSM Symposium at UC Berkeley.
A couple more reviews of \"Libraries and the Assault on Paper\" By Nicholson Baker, I may have to read this one after all.
Mark sent along
This NY Times Review and you can find another at NYBooks.com.
If you haven\'t heard, Baker says primary sources should be preserved and that the trashing them is a crime.
\"I\'ve tried not to misrepresent those whose views differ from my own, but I make no secret of my disagreement; at times, a dormant prosecutorial urge awoke in me, for we have lost things that we can never get back.\"
Millions of books in the Library of Congress have deteriorated to the point where they can\'t be lent to users without risking irreparable damage.
The workings of government in the first decades of the information era have been poorly recorded, archiving experts say. Years of valuable public records may have already been lost, creating a gap in the country\'s historical record.
Archivists, government watchdog groups and investigative reporters worry that unless the problem is solved, the lack of information could make it more difficult to hold government officials accountable for their decisions and policies. [more...] from Wired News.
Two stories on \"Doublefold: Libraries and the Assault
on Paper\", a book that has some harsh words for some
library practices. The NY Times Story includes words from
James Billington, the librarian of Congress.