It's called “inherent vice” in the archival world.
That’s when a newspaper, with its acidic properties, eventually crumbles and goes to dust.
That definition symbolically describes what happened to five newspapers in Simcoe County on Monday with the abrupt closure of the Barrie Examiner, Orillia Packet and Times, Innisfil Examiner, Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin and the Bradford Times.
“The news is still settling in but I think this will be a tremendous blow to the community,” said historian Matthew Fells of the Simcoe County Archives.
Fells goes on to say that in the case of the Barrie Examiner, it provided an historical record.
“There were 153 years of records of people’s births, deaths, marriages and locally focused stories and now there will be a large hole. The Examiner is still one of the most used resources at the archives," said Fells.
Reflecting on the loss of newspapers in general, Fells believes they still have a place, albeit a nostalgic one.
"There is still something about the tactile experience of handling an actual newspaper in the morning with your coffee or maybe that’s just the romantic in me."
The Simcoe County Archives has the 2nd edition of the Barrie Examiner No. 2, dated Feb. 19, 1864, but is missing the first.
The papers are kept in a climate-controlled atmosphere to avoid damage but also put on microfilm which lasts three to 500 years, according to Fells. He anticipates an increased demand of some old issues in the coming weeks.
The County is considering a series of blog posts to honour the publications.
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