This week I participated in the Science at Risk: Toward a National Strategy for Preserving Online Science meeting hosted by the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). During this two-day meeting the Library’s recently-retired manuscript specialist Len Bruno took us on a journey through the scientific treasures of the Library’s Manuscript Division. On display were items such as Jefferson’s plans/instructions for a pasta machine, Morse’s first telegraph message, Jon Von Neumann’s folder and notes on the atomic bomb, and Herman Hollerith’s punch cards and templates. These collections provoked me to reflect upon the variety of materials produced by scientists and, in turn, what ends up being collected and preserved by institutions. I also contemplated about the types of material that can be collected from current and future scientists- blogs, laptops, mobile devices, virtual notebooks …?
Our picture of the week features one of the collections on display- the original journals from the Wright Brothers. Although the journals have been digitized and are available in the Wilbur and Orville Wright Brothers Papers , the digital surrogates do not compare to the physical presence of these little books in which the brothers logged their experiments with flying. So I wonder…when we make the first manned flight to Mars, what sort of original material will we collect and preserve?