Tuesday, November 10, 2015

St Paul Library destroying materials of our city's history?

Fast on the heels of the City's of St Paul recent decision to purge it's government e-mails every three months comes a new revelation: the St Paul Public Library is in the process of deciding to trash thousands upon thousands of historical newspaper clippings.

For decades, the library has maintained a "Subject Morgue File" collection.  It consists of newspaper clippings from the St Paul Pioneer Press and the St Paul Dispatch, and it dates from the first part of the twentieth century - 1910-1945.  Due to its painstaking subject-by subject file arrangement, the collection represents the only searchable repository of local news from the time period.  A collection of historical value that could be part of the St Paul Collection.

The clippings it seems were loaned to the library by the Pioneer Press to be used by researchers and interested members of the public.  For the past several years, however, the files have been kept away from public view, and now library management seems intent on destroying them permanently.

There are many questions to be asked here: Why is the library so intent on gutting, rather than preserving and displaying (St Paul Collection), this unique collection?  Are the collection of clippings, able to be wiped out if it is someone else's property?

St Paul has been considered the half of the Twin Cities that has retained its sense and appreciation of history, even as its twin to the West has continued to plow its past under.  The St Paul Library (St Paul) now tossing that sensibility to the wind by throwing more and more of its history down Orwell's "memory hole?"

There needs to be involvement by the Library Board and the public as the library makes such decisions to have such a vital source of local history disappear.  Move quickly, decision may be made at the end of the  week


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