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A Few Reasons Why We Need a Reference Collection...
- Information tends to be volatile unless recorded ... now more than ever with the advent of Internet and email documents. Chance plays a bigger part than systematic searching in the gathering of data by individual researchers. There is no central accumulation of experience and achievement, so that many researchers "reinvent the wheel", unaware of prior work in the same subject. A central clearing-house could organise the work of collection and redirection to interested researchers.
- Many newspapers cannot maintain their back-issue files and libraries beyond a few years, destroying them or rendering them unavailable. Large modern newspapers are converting to electronic and optical archiving but only what is deemed to be of interest is stored. Archives of older newspapers certainly those before 1900 are few, difficult to access and often incomplete.
- The archiving of periodicals is even more patchy (apart from scientific periodicals and those titles mandated for deposit in the national libraries). Outside of private collections, most of the small, privately published, amateur or enthusiast publications are not archived at all. This applies particularly to the output of forteans, ufologists, psychical researchers, occultists, spiritualists, esotericists, cryptozoologists, and other enthusiasts in every conceivable subject ... all of whom (without regard to the merit of their contents) tend to specialise, collecting and discussing data only in their area of interest. The Internet has added millions of electronic documents to this category. There is nowhere, at present, where anyone can consult runs of FATE, INFO Journal, Pursuit, Flying Saucer Review or the Res Bureaux Bulletin, to name some examples.
- The personal libraries and case files of individual researchers and small organisations are often lost, destroyed or dissipated on their demise or loss of their interest. A simple act of bequest to the CFI would save their efforts for posterity.
- Small and specialist libraries in the care of larger institutions are often sidelined as these institutions owe no special allegiance to the aims of the original collectors. Relocation, withdrawal from public access, put away into storage, damage by damp, and selling off are some of the fates that have faced many unique little collections.
- Modern information technology makes it more practical than ever to undertake such ambitious projects as the concatenation of all indexes or the creation of an Encyclopedia Forteana, both of which can be added to daily, instantly updated and be accessible from anywhere in the world.
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