The Value of Information

Value of Information

In my ever-abundant spare time, I moonlight as a master’s student.

Yep, I’m getting a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science.  I’m focusing on archives and information organization.  I’m a little over halfway done with  my coursework.

What does this have to do with memory keeping?  Everything, actually.

It’s really interesting to see how my experience as a memory keeper affects my opinions on information management issues.  Conversely, I’m learning a lot of concepts that really apply to scrapbooking.

Here is something I learned in my Records Management class this semester:

The value of information is directly related to its accessibility. 

I couldn’t agree more.  Consider photos locked away on your phone or hard drive.  Keepsakes in a closet.  They mean so much more if people can look at them.

On that note, I just finished my finals for this semester.  I can’t wait to have more time to scrapbook!

Thinking About Paper and Scrapbooks: 2 Ways

Thinking About Paper

This continues last week’s discussion about paper, which started with my post on Acid & Lignin.

I’ve been learning a lot about paper and it’s made me think about why I scrapbook.  Here are two wildly different ways to think about paper.  There’s a happy ending, I promise.

Paper is Organic

All paper is organic and will eventually deteriorate.

That’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?

I think about this when Mr. P is watching episodes of the Universe.  It makes me think of how short and small our existence is, what will eventually happen to our planet, and why I even bother scrapbooking.  Even the most archival quality papers will deteriorate eventually, probably before our planet will.

When I think in those terms, I have to get my head screwed on straight and think about why I scrapbook.  It’s my hobby, I like doing it.  The byproduct of the hobby is something to show to family and friends.  Still, at the end of the day, I’m doing it for me.

Paper is Still a Very Viable Record Format

Let’s look at this from the other direction.  So paper deteriorates.  You know what deteriorates faster?  Much much faster?  Digital media.

After reading the above, you are probably wondering why you should scrapbook and maybe that you should just keep digital files and not print anything.  Wrong!

One of the fascinating things I’m learning as I study paper is how versatile it is.  You don’t need special software to read a paper book.  You don’t need a password.  In our society today, there is such a concern about how to disseminate information quickly and little thought put into long term preservation.

Some even argue that our cultural record of today will disappear faster than the cultural record of the past because today’s record is digital.  Digital material can degrade, become obsolete or become unusable much faster than paper.  There are no standards on how to preserve digital data for the long term.

So, even though paper will eventually deteriorate, it’s actually more reliable than digital.  What’s the point here?  The time you take getting photos off your computer and into scrapbooks or albums matters.  Yes, everything will eventually deteriorate, but paper is still a very reliable method for storing information.

Happy ending?  I’m still scrapbooking!

Learning about Acid & Lignin

Acid free.  Lignin free.  Do you ever wonder what that means?  I do.

Maybe I’m just a paper dork.  Anyway, I’ve been studying paper in my spare time!  We all know we should be using acid free paper in scrapbooks.  What does that really mean and where does this acid come from?

Paper can be made from many things.  Cotton, linen, grass, straw, wood – lots of things.  Currency is very often made from cotton because it’s more durable.

In the 19th century, machines were invented to make wood pulp paper.  Mass producing wood pulp paper made paper much cheaper.  Previously paper was made by hand.  Most paper we use today is wood pulp.

What is lignin, exactly?  Lignin is a chemical compound in wood that binds wood fibers together.  Lignin can be removed during the paper making process, but mechanical wood pulp production usually leaves lignin in because it is cheaper.  High lignin papers turn yellow over time – think about mass market paperback books.

How does acid get into paper?  Mass produced wood pulp paper is bleached to make it white.  Acid residue is left in paper as a result of this process.  Acid residue causes brittleness.

So what is acid/lignin-free paper?  It’s not exactly acid or lignin “free.”  Acid free papers are made in a way that minimizes acid and lignin presence.  Sometimes acid free paper can contain an additive that changes the pH of the paper to minimize the effect of acid in the paper.

What about archival paper?  Archival paper is not the same as acid free.  Archival papers are made differently, are actually lignin free and contain alkalines that counter balance any acids that may still be present.

So there’s your paper lesson!  No, don’t freak out and think that the acid free paper you are using is now not good enough!  I’ll have some more thoughts very soon on the longevity of paper that you don’t want to miss!