The Future of the Past: Preservation in American Research Libraries

pub82. The Future of the Past: Preservation in American Research Libraries
Smith, Abby (4/99, 20pp) $15
ISBN 1-887334-67-X

This paper gives an overview of the preservation and management of research collections and describes the context in which decisions are made by researchers and librarians about what to preserve and how. By examining how librarians and scholars grappled with the first great crisis in the preservation of library materials-the pandemic loss of information printed on embrittled acid paper-it traces the development of the current consensus on how to manage large collections recorded on many media of varying stability. And the paper addresses the problem that, despite striking progress made in preservation technology and management, the difficulties of preserving original library materials have scarcely diminished over time and demand the same thoughtful cooperation between scholars and librarians as they enter the twenty-first century as the brittle-book problem received in the 1980s.

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