From my diary – scanning my own past

You do it.  I do it.  We all do it.  Yes, I’m talking about photocopies!  All those journal articles… all those books that we couldn’t get hold of in any other way.

At least, that’s what we used to do.  I suspect that university libraries are allowing copying direct to PDF these days.  But certainly fifteen years ago, if I wanted a copy of a book, or an article, it was photocopying or nothing.

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In consequence, over time, I amassed a great quantity of the things.  The first ones I neatly filed in hanging folders in a filing cabinet.  But this quickly became impossible.  I noted that the paper used in photocopiers came in nice-sized boxes, and appropriated these.  Inside them, I stored my articles, separated by wrapping a piece of paper around them.

Over time I ended up with nine of these boxes.  Big, heavy, and so solid that, as I had 6 of them piled next to my desk, I tended to use them as furniture and rest coffee cups, notes, pens, etc on top of them.

Only one is left now.  This evening I finished the last-but-one.  Its contents are now PDFs on my hard disk.

I imagine that I stopped keeping photocopies around 3-4 years ago, and just automatically scanned them to PDF.  But looking in the boxes is like looking into my own past.  Today, for instance, I have found a load of books and articles relating to the Chronicle of St. Jerome, which I (and a gang of volunteers) translated into English.  I’m told that was 10 years ago.  My, how the time has flown.

In those days I uploaded the result to HTML.  Should I have produced a PDF version?  It seems more clear each day that I should have done so.  But I doubt that I have the energy any more.  Let others do it, if they will: I have given them the materials.

At least I can now see the carpet next to my desk.  For the first time in over a decade!

6 thoughts on “From my diary – scanning my own past

  1. I see that the six Loeb Classical Texts – three Greek, three Latin – on the top shelf of your bookcase betray your classical interests. I love looking at other people’s book collections. They tell you so much about their tastes.

  2. I thought it might be useful to have the text of Jerome’s Chronicle reformatted into a database table, rather than HTML! One could argue that it is the western world’s oldest non-trivial data table. I did a considerable amount of conversion of your English text in that direction, but sadly the project remained unfinished.

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