Patrons of modern libraries likewise expect the instant gratification of online viewing rather than having to pull print copies off the shelves, let alone jumping through the hoops necessary to obtain more restricted content. Having a pre-Carnegie access model in the age of Google Books is increasingly alienating to potential users.
When it comes to where one might find rare works of art or valuable historical artifacts, most people think of museums or perhaps the Boston Public Library, particularly after the high-profile “loss” earlier this year of valuable prints by Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt that were ultimately found 80 feet from where they should have been filed.
In November, researchers at UC Berkeley will begin a three-year project to restore and translate thousands of century-old audio recordings of Native California Indians. The collection was created by cultural anthropologists in the first half of the 20th century and is now considered the largest audio repository of California Indian culture in the world.
"Certainly digital archiving is becoming the new normal, but it's not replacing paper," Feeney said. "It's coming in as an addition to the paper. There may be a change around the corner, but right now we've continued receiving more and more electronic files but we're continuing to receive the traditional material in the same or greater quantities."
Tryniski's site, which he created in his living room in upstate New York, has grown into one of the largest historic newspaper databases in the world, with 22 million newspaper pages. By contrast, the Library of Congress' historic newspaper site, Chronicling America, has 5 million newspaper pages on its site while costing taxpayers about $3 per page. In January, visitors to Fultonhistory.com accessed just over 6 million pages while Chronicling America pulled fewer than 3 million views.
Perusing the Frauenzimmerspiegel raises many questions about gender roles assigned to men and women in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It also speaks to the public and private place of women in a patriarchal society at that time and how more enlightened thinking slowly began to redefine these roles into civic models.
For centuries, scientists who wanted to study a particular type specimen had to visit the museum where it is kept or have the specimen sent to them. Either way, the potential for damage was high: fragile body parts would sometimes fall off during inspection or transport, causing irreparable damage.
This is a microcosm of the danger facing American archives. Because almost nothing is catalogued at the item-level, most of the unique material housed in these most important of repositories is particularly vulnerable to theft. When someone like Breithaupt steals a book, even a very old book, there is a catalog record that tells us it is missing—and likely some kind of duplicate copy somewhere else in the world. But when he steals a letter from Flannery O’Connor to John Crowe Ransom—unless that letter has been photocopied by another person—it basically ceases to exist.