Blog Post

What you do not want lost in the fire

What you do not want lost in the fire

Question: The library is burning to the ground, and you have time to save one thing: a book on a shelf, a digital photo of the book and its pages, or the book or manuscript digitally transcribed (that is, typed into a computer file or files). Which one would you save and why?


Response: If the library was burning down and I had to save one thing, I would save the book in its whole, original form because there is more history and sentiment to it than its digital reconstruction. In the article by Andy Stauffer, “My Old Sweethearts: On Digitization and the Future of the Print Record”, he discovers that not all copies of the book, My Old Sweetheart, were the same. There were variations in some of the words, punctuation, and images in various the copies of the book that he was able to get a hold of. Saving an original copy of the book would preserve its history and uniqueness because it just may be one of a kind. If a digital photo of the book was saved it would not preserve the importance of the bounded book with its flesh pages. Liu references in his article, “Ways of Reading, Models for Text, and the Usefulness of Dead People”  that sometimes people would not actually read a book, but would also hang onto it for the sake of sentimental value and comfort. A book like the bible is used mostly for the text inside, but the physical book may also be a comforting object to someone. A physical book has a certain look to it and has value more to it than just the words on the pages, but in also in the shape of the book, the size and type of its text, the way it was bound, its unique smell, the design on its cover and the signs of wear that give it character. With a physical book you can see how the letters were printed on the page and what kind of paper what used in that copy of the book, how thick or thin the paper is and the level of whiteness it still does or does not display. A digital transcription of a book would conserve the text and the story, but would not preserve the history and sentimental value that lies in the book itself. 


No comments