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:
- 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.
- 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.)