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- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Sophism
- From: "Jack C. Thompson" <tcl@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 2 May 1997 01:15:37 -0800
- Message-id: <199705020859.BAA24731@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "The Book Arts: binding, typography, collecting" <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
I know; nothing more about pricing - and this isn't. It's about sophism.
My dictionary defines the term thusly: "...a clever and plausible but
fallacious argument or form of reasoning, whether or not intended to
Steve Hales, by his signature, is a professor of philosophy. I wonder if
the current exchange is serving as an example in some class...?
If he confuses public safety (police detectives) with book binding he does
so knowingly and willfully. The arguement he makes (in the sense of a
proof, not a bout of yelling) is specious (a sophism).
One might also argue that the sole purpose of libraries and archives is to
provide employment for librarians and archivists.
If I compare the number of libraries and archives I've visited in the U.S.,
Canada, and England, with the number of conservation labs in those
institutions... but I digress.
Historians (political, cultural, economic, geographic, etc.) tell us that
libraries and archives are vital to their occupation of identifying those
elements from our past which may be useful in the present and can shape our
Librarians and archivists conduct studies and determine, for instance, that
a 300 year old book is heavily used if it is used every 25 years. They
(and the historians) define what is useful enough to warrant preservation
(quite a different thing than monetary value, although they may be
Library and archive collections are built a piece at a time. Some of the
pieces are acquired in the normal course of commerce as new material; some
of the pieces are acquired from dealers in used material; some of the
pieces come from private collections.
It is not ethical for a conservator to determine the monetary value of a
piece which is part of, or may one day become part of, a library or
By the same token, it is not ethical for a conservator to base a fee for
service on the known or presumed value of such a piece.
Historians, librarians/archivists, materials scientists, conservators,
examine a range of books/paper in an attempt to understand the mechanisms
of deterioration and learn why pre-1800 books/paper is generally in better
condition today than those produced after the discovery of chlorine, the
use of sulfuric acid in the tannery, the shift from hand papermaking to
machine papermaking, hand binding to machine binding, changes in the nature
and formulation of adhesives, etc.
Integrating this information and applying it to a problem at the bench
requires a certain amount of confidence (ego); not unlike a surgeon
wielding a scalpel or a police officer wielding a gun. Decisions have to
be made, and it is not always easy to recover from a bad call.
Having been there myself, I fully understand and appreciate the comments by
Dorothy Africa and John Freund, but their activities are no more what this
thread is about than my giving out an asprin is about the practice of
During the time of this discussion on Book_Arts-L, a related discussion has
been pursued on the Museum List.
I append the following post without permission (my ego got in the way of my
sense of ethics; probably). I've removed the name of the respondent, but
the complete thread is available to anyone who checks the archive of
>Date: Thu, 1 May 1997 14:43:52 GMT
>Subject: Re: Earned Income
<<A question that many of us in the museum profession have been asked is:
>>"Can this proposed museum pay for itself, and, if not, what percentage of
>>its annual operating budget can be generated through earned income?"
>>I have heard the figure of one-third (could generate approximately $33,000
>>in earned income of every $100,000 operating) from several institutions
>>but always in a general, unattributed sense. Do any of our distinguished
>>colleagues have information on this topic? >>
>My goal has been to have $100,000 out of 100,000 come from earned income.
>Run the museum like a for profit business. Tourism is the number 1
>industry in the world now, so the market is out there.
I would augment the Old Testament admonishment, "The workman is worthy of
his hire" to include a "on a level playing field".
And that is _ex cathedra_.
In the immortal words of Walter Henry, "Onward"
Jack C. Thompson