I work in a library, doing special collections/archival stuff. Sometimes I think my work can best be summed up in one of two ways, or a combination of the two:

  1. This shall be preserved. We shall stick it in a box or folder or other special preservation-friendly container and we shall preserve it. Preserve, preserve, preserve. Please do not touch. Please do not breathe upon it. You may look.
  2. This has been preserved all wrong. We must redo it! So it shall be truly and properly preserved. Preserve, preserve, preserve.

Thus my work seems to result in a lot of unpicking what was likely very diligent work done by someone now long dead. And I feel like giving them some due, you know? Like, “oh, former archivist or collector! You did such a great job sticking photos/negs in these now yellowing plastic sleeves! And look, you even taped each opening shut, so the pictures wouldn’t fall out!”

And then I carefully untape each portal, and slide out each photograph, and drop them into their new sleeve or envelope. And I think about my future counterpart, and I believe I can feel a faint from-the-future pat on the head.

(It feels more like a slap whenever I’m digitizing things, but WHATEVER, future archivist, we’re doing our best back here.)


3 thoughts on “Archivin’

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