“It kind of gets the heart racing to think that those books are gone,” Fielder said.
It’s not uncommon for paper records to get destroyed once they are in another permanent form or have been digitized. At least, some of the county’s older records will get that treatment.
The state of Indiana took almost all of the tax duplicate books, where property taxes owed and paid were listed, and will microfilm them, sending a copy to the county. Once those are microfilmed, the books, which were particularly smelly and moldy, will be gone.
Microfilm is considered the most permanent form of preservation, with the film having a lifespan of 500 years. But Fielder doesn’t necessarily think microfilming and destroying the paper copy is necessarily the best route for all the books.
“You get little notations that are in these books that you don’t get in microfilm,” Fielder said.
There’s still work left in the archive. During the move, pages fell out of the books that will need to find their proper homes. An inventory of the archive also will be taken. Getting the majority of the books to the archive space was the hardest part, Weiler said.
There are still more records at the county highway garage that Weiler and Fielder will need to go through. Once that’s done, the hope is that the county can possibly get grant money for a librarian and open the space to the public.
The majority of the books are finally in one place, which has long been a dream for county officials.
“We’re not going to miss this at all,” Fielder said, looking into an empty room that was once used for storage.