Monday, December 15, 2014

Why UT doesn't want to report what it paid for Marquez's archives

Earlier this month there was an announcement that a major writer's papers  from Columbia were coming to an American archives. I felt very ignorant because I had never heard of the man, Gabriel Garcia Marquez,  much less read his literature. He won a Nobel Prize for heaven's sake.  Now there is a bigger article about his archives in the news because the university refuses to report what it paid for the archives, fearing the disclosure may cause the price of archives to increase and make them unattainable for many archives.  I'd be surprised if the archives/library didn't use their Friends of the Library/Archives to gather funds to purchase the archives. It will be interesting to see if they will be forced to disclose or not. Marquez's archives is large, encompassing 50 years of materials with  manuscripts of 10 of his major books. It will be housed at the University of Texas's Harry Ransom Center, which also has the archives of "renowned Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. In 2005, the Ransom Center bought the papers by reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on the Watergate scandal for $5m (£3.2m)."  Interesting. So do we think Marquez's archives sold for more than $5 m? 
At the Clarke most of our archives are donated for free. This is true at most archives, at least in the US.  Those collections with high appraisal value, like the Hemingway collections  at the Clarke, are purchased through special donations through our Friends of Library. Most of our other collections are not appraised by appraisers but by archival theory as to their permanent historical research value.  UT is right, it probably will drive up the cost of major collections, but most libraries can't afford to buy major collections with high appraisal value unless major donors offer to do so. Read more about Marquez's archives and UT  here http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-30436416

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