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"Stephen M.H. Braitman" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Is the importance of physical material in libraries and archives decreasing
> due to the surge in usage of digital files?


No. We're still getting massive amounts of paper, photographs, film, video,
and other analog formats, along with an ever-increasing flow of
born-digital material. It's all coming in.

Do you see a future when physical artifacts are no longer collected,
> archived, preserved, once they have been effectively digitized or otherwise
> electronically manifested?


No. We retain analog originals and try to preserve them. I don't see that
changing, though of course there will eventually be a natural end to
incoming analog items. But people still have plenty of physical "things"
that document their lives, organizations, and activities, and I don't see
that changing.

And, finally, is this situation causing institutions to, at least, look
> more seriously at their archives and collections for their pertinence and
> relevance, thus causing a paring down or refocusing of their priorities?


No. All other things being equal, collecting policies are format-agnostic.
Curators collect documentation, whatever the format. Many ARE adjusting
their priorities in terms of what people or subjects they collect, to
better represent people and populations that have historically been ignored
in the archival record, but I don't think that is what you are asking
about.  Available resources wax and wane over time, so emergencies like a
pandemic and economic distress don't have a bearing on the basic mission.
There IS and has been a change happening in terms of focus on digital
collecting and infrastructure, and there are unfortunately the "haves" and
"have-nots" in terms of libraries and library systems that have the
resources to spend on that infrastructure and expertise. For that reason
alone, a library or archives may be forced to pass on taking in an
important collection that fits its collecting policy, but that has too much
of a format which it lacks the resources to preserve and provide access to.

-- 

Matt Snyder | The New York Public Library

Archivist/Specialist II


*Archives Unit*

*Preservation and Collections Processing*

Library Services Center

31-11 Thomson Avenue, Rm. 202, Long Island City, NY 11101

T: 917.229.9582 | matthewsnyder <http://goog_214053846/>@nypl.org
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