Archivally Unsafe

December 6, 2005

Millions of rare artifacts and historical documents are turning to dust in the United States due to improper conservation methods according to a report released today by my sister. It is a pretty huge survey she oversaw, the results of which can be found here. My sister (her last name is now Laise) and I have been discussing the archival safety of all things digital lately as well, and while I doth protest, she says nothing is safe. So beware angrymoosers. Anyway, she gets lots of juicy quotes in the NYT piece, but I particularly like this section because it is very illustrative:

"Conservators have since discovered that cellulose acetate breaks down over time, producing a vinegarlike odor. Without updated preservation, the book now "smells just like a Greek salad," said John McColgan, deputy archivist for the City of Boston."

Mmmm...Greek salad...tasty.

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