Friday, May 18, 2012

Throwing away my old reprints

This summer I am moving my office and lab to another building. As I pack up, I am tossing lots of old paperwork and junk. So what do I do with the two file drawers full of my old reprints? Most of these papers are posted on my website, so I really don't need to keep reprints. Apart from one or two that are very nice aesthetically (e.g., my reprint from Hansen's city-states book has a beautiful color image of an painting of  "good government" on the cover), I should just toss them all. But I am a pack-rat by nature; maybe I will want these someday (yeah, right). More importantly, these reprints are my career! This is what I have accomplished as a scholar. How can I just toss these things into the recycle bin?

I spent a few weeks going back and forth (Toss them all! Save them all!), and then my wife suggested I keep a few complete sets and toss the rest. Maybe our kids will want these someday. Maybe we'll need something to light fires with in post-carbon times.

One useful thing has come out of this. The student who is helping me organize things prior to moving (Theresa Araque) checked to see which reprints are not yet scanned and on my website. So I will now try to get more of my old articles scanned or downloaded and posted. I'm sure thousands of people are waiting with bated breath to read such gems as "The Aztec silent majority: William T. Sanders and the study of the Aztec peasantry" (edited book, 1996).


Jason Ur said...

I always still get a couple dozen printed offprints, when they're made available, because they carry far more weight (literally and figuratively) when handed to antiquities officials in the Middle East than PDFs do. This is especially true at the local level, and with local students of archaeology.

Michael E. Smith said...

Good point, Jason. I think I've gotten lazy in Mexico - I used to make sure I had my reprints organized in Mexico, gave them out strategically, etc. Lately I haven't been worrying about that so much.