Archived Story

Jo-Ann Boepple: The need to keep our printed pages

Published 6:48pm Monday, May 9, 2011

Last week I wrote of the value of the newspaper and the printed page. Then recently in the news was the story of a 500-year-old book found in an attic.

Five hundred years! Found in an attic!

It was in good condition and readable.

Now let’s just suppose that 500 years into the future someone tries to read a book written on the Internet today. No hard copy — just an electronic book.

First of all, will today’s computers be around 500 from now?

If it is put on a disc or memory card, will there be equipment capable of reading it? I think not.

Now comes the argument for the printed page. Paper does deteriorate over time if it is not properly preserved. But even some paper just carelessly stored seems to survive the time and the elements.

So is the Edwardsburg Museum foolish to save copies of the Argus? There are early copies of the paper now 100 years old in the museum archives. They are also on microfilm.

But microfilm readers that were made when the papers were filmed are hard to come by and the film is not of the best quality.

The papers were filmed in the 1980s; will they deteriorate over time?

So back to my initial thoughts.

The collection of papers in the museum is not at all near complete. The task of cataloging them and sorting them has become huge and time consuming. So the museum is looking for someone who would like to sit in the basement and continue the to sort and catalog the papers.

The museum is also looking for old copies of the Argus to complete the collection. Once the current collection is cataloged, what is missing will be known.

Now don’t think that the museum is collecting just any papers. Yes, it does have some newspapers that are not just the Argus. Papers with headlines of world events are being saved also. But that will be a limited collection. The museum is not looking to fill its basement with newspapers but what better way to preserve the history of the town and the area?

The Voice is another source of local news that is being collected and saved.

When Otis Montgomery wrote his book about Edwardsburg, he used the old issues of the Argus that were on microfilm and those stored in the basement of the history library in Cassopolis as the basis of his book. He also did research in other places but primarily the daily and weekly information was taken from the newspapers.

Electronic forms may be the current means of communication, but will it last?

Will we be able to read them?

I think not! Put it in the newspaper and save it.

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