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In Realtime: Day 2 Felt Like Week 4 —

This time, I’m sitting in my car, & I don’t feel broken, simply renewed.

It’s ten o’clock, and we probably have a couple more hours to go. What we are trying to do is ensure that everything is in a box that is going out. Then, tomorrow can consist of two things: moving items to the storage units, and quality wrap-up.

Last moment, we had to go out and buy even more boxes. There are 1,500 boxes in the collection now. I probably would have started making hard choices, but so many people have donated time and money to making this a reality, I didn’t want to let people down. As a result, we have erred slightly in favor of taking stuff then leaving stuff, and the 1500 boxes probably contain some amount of dupes.


Individuals have come running from all directions. Some drove hours to get here, some are families whose parents wanted to help and the kids ended up helping too.







Naturally, the wider exposure about this operation has led to a raft of expert opinions, wrapped in a tiny little bow and perfectly executed like a Metropolitan Opera premiere. I am sure this could have been done a hundred different ways, some with pros and cons. We worked with what we have. On Friday at noon, I had no idea that we only would have till Wednesday to get things out. We went for banker boxes, volunteer labor, and ultimately professional movers to move things to storage units that were a mile away.

I have been more willing to listen to suggestions given to me by sweaty, overworked volunteers who drove in and walked through the alleys with me to give advice and pointers from learned experience. One suggested a way to sort boxes quicker. Another one called out to his friends and family and they came running, while yet another point it out the bankers boxes could be bought at a nearby wholesale club without any red tape or waiting.

By the end of tomorrow, volunteers willing and depending on what other factors we haven’t figured it out, there will be multiple storage units a mile away that have these boxes. I will do a further breakdown and analysis of the whole thing, and as many thank you’s as I can possibly track down, but for now, I have to go back into the building. There’s work to be done and no amount of blogging is going to make it go away.





For those who have made it to the end:

If you are in the area and can come by tomorrow, your help can be used. The owner has let me know that if people come on site, they can take as many manuals as they want. Otherwise, they are all absolutely going into a dumpster.

I don’t think Wednesday is going to be as difficult, but you never know. So if you have time during the day or afternoon, it would be very, very, welcome.

I won’t be forgetting any of this anytime soon.

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  1. Phil A. says:

    Glad I made it over even if only for a few hours last night. Definitely lots of hard work by everyone, I was ready to take a break after a few hours, much appreciation to everyone who was there all day.

    Snapped some pics of neat stuff along the way
    Definitely some valuable stuff in there, not so much in a monetary sense but just for the sake of preservation.

    Would be over there helping today if I could. Godspeed, will be watching for updates and interested to see what comes out of it all.

  2. Phil Hobbs says:

    Awesome. How can we help?

  3. grimmtooth says:

    Heroes, every last one of you. I don’t have the means to donate or help right now, but if you need help in defraying the storage costs ongoing, I hope you’ll post a link where we can donate to that as well.

    Thanks to all!

  4. Andrew says:

    What grimmtooth said – unfortunately I wasn’t able to donate immediately when you asked, let us know if ongoing donations to cover costs are still needed as I’d like to chip in.

  5. HocusLocus says:

    Well done. The spark of Hugo Gernsback has been rescued from the threat of oblivion and is now at rest in a storage unit in Maryland. From this seed one day a great Library will grow.

    In the first age of mechanical marvels our landscape was transformed by astounding feats of engineering. Minerals and chemicals became materials. Road and rail spanned continents, Looms wove our fabrics, rivers ran backwards, water purified and wast treated, the essential comforts of life were codified as civil engineering best practice and made available to everyone. Paper communicated our ideas and recorded our greatest triumphs.

    In the second age, the Age of Gernsback, application of scientific principle both transformed and transcended the mechanical. From early ideas of machines mimicking and exceeding the feats men and animals, now we were thinking in terms of harnessing and applying energy itself. We began to harness the aether for communication, and terrestrial wire spanned the continents. It was also a great age for experimenters, for as a species we had perfected the means by which paper communicated ideas. From pulp magazine to printed service manual to Bell Standard Practice, armies of enthusiasts and dreamers, literate engineers and meticulous librarians ensured that the human race, even as it raced forward, was amply documented. For every brilliant inventor or rockstar scientist there may have been dozens of curators of knowledge, publishers and writers.

    Now we are on the Cusp of the Third Age, the one the clever but hasty and somewhat immature geniuses of Silicon Valley are calling the Information Age. From where I’m standing it’s beginning to look like a world of shit, half-ass engineering and a set-up for sudden catastrophic failure. The First and Second ages have provided us with a civilization to live in and build upon but just like Rome — even as the wonders of previous ages stand before us, things are decaying from within.

    Children are growing into adulthood playing games instead of learning the joys of facing and solving problems. We are being told that setting ideas on paper is obsolete, though our electronic infrastructure does not even approach the reliability and longevity of paper. Physical infrastructure in our cities and towns is crumbling, not so much from financial irresponsibility as from the simple fact that we no longer stand in awe of it and cherish its gifts day after day. Even with major advances in materials science things that deserve to be re-fashioned and re-built are left just so. Even the paper manual, that once described principles of operation and acknowledged one’s right to fix simple problems, has degraded into a useless collection of trite instruction and boiler plate Federally mandated hazard warnings. Not worth the paper it’s printed on.

    Our communications networks have decayed too, even as the wireless promise is fulfilled. Gernsback would be amazed by modern cellular technology, but he’d be alarmed that we have let slip things like simple audio fidelity, and especially resilience. He saw the country wired with telephone exchanges that were autonomous and free-standing. It has all been gutted and a series of shitty little compromises that leave us vulnerable. It’s time to face it, we fucked up. Your cell tower is too stupid to let you call your neighbor. Upon learning this Hugo Gernsback would say, “Saaay whaa?”

    Let this Library survive, so some day the young can see how it should have been done all along.

    “What description of clouds and sunsets was to the old novelist, description of scientific apparatus and methods is to the modern Scientific Detective writer.”
    ~~ Hugo Gernsback

  6. Martin says:

    Congratulations to all the volunteers !!!

    It is a great felling to go out and help instead of just sitting to post whatever on twitter šŸ™‚
    I hope I can help on some archiving project in my locality.

    YOU GUYS ROCK !!!!