"Richard L. Hess" <[log in to unmask]> wrote: >It's a fascinating area. But, to gain an alternate perspective, one
>must read Nicholson Baker's "Double Fold"
Also worth reading...the responses to Baker. In most library circles, the Association for Research Libraries being one, there is the constant reference to lack of funds to preserve.
I believe that libraries have no choice but to divert more of their available budgets to preservation. Will this mean a decline in the provision of standard services? Perhaps. Most certainly, however there are, at least from my perspective and experience, many areas where libraries could dramatically increase efficiency and reduce costs. Further, ARL statistics indicate that there is a decline in the per capita use of research collections, probably as a result of the efficacy of the web.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, very few librarians are researchers and have a personal stake in the value of preserving history. Library schools do not teach the value of history. Few librarians are trained in preservation, conservation and reformatting. Again, as I have pointed out, in my experience, librarians place little value on those skills.
For me, the best evidence of this can be found in the digitization initiatives of google. Does anyone remember Project Gutenberg?They have about 20,000 volumes so far. Obviously business can afford to do more, but libraries could have been donating a portion of their funds to Project Gutenberg for the last 25+ years and, well...maybe there wouldn't have been an opportunity for google.
Preservation/conservation/reformatting Officers need to be on the Assistant Director level of every research library. I also believe they need to be given a buget commensurate to the immense tasks required, even if it means a substantive reduction in the budgets for cataloging, processing and acquisitions, etc.Perhaps placing budget restrictions on acquisitions might see the return of subject trained subject specialists. We might also see some efficient approach to cataloging resulting from such an abrupt change in the allocation of resources.
Maybe now that libraries have lost much of their relative monopoly status in the world of information we might see some real changes in libraries...but first it has to start in library schools...or perhaps we need to get our librarians elsewhere.