Spent half an afternoon poring over old documents to see if they are relevant to what I’m doing. Some of these things really should be properly scanned in and archived so that they will not be lost over time.
Hard copies tend to be locked up and kept by a single person who does not bother to read them. Centralised storage of hard copied tend to fall into disuse because it takes effort to approach the person in charge of storing the documents and searching through the dead trees. Keeping in soft copy on the network is the way to go, just as the Internet makes information much more accessible than the library.
Some people will say that the documents should be properly handled and stored, but try to discuss in detail about how to preserve and share them out and they will clam up and keep quiet. I believe very firmly that if something is important enough to you, you will do something about it. It’s the acid test of whether something is significant enough to you that you preserve it instead of letting it drift away. Whether you really believe in what you preach, or if it is just propaganda.
Using students to scan them in is an option, but cannot be too chek ahk and make 1 person scan all of them in. It’s too mind-numbing and demoralising. Perhaps 1 book each, or 1 day each, rotate among the students. It is all within reach, I’ll see if they really believe in what they preach.
IT systems are never totally bug-free, that I can understand. But when you have bugs in your documents? In your hard copy?? A colleague opened his cabinet and found a beetle crawling among his papers. A living, breathing, crawling bug. All of us felt like fainting. Nope, it’s not a bookworm, it’s a bug. At least soft copied will not have beetles crawling around.