3 Hey Pete, what’s new with you?

Their conversation rolls out slowly, like a baseball game under an August sun. They stroll to their positions, noting the shadows and twitching their caps.

“I would not like to speculate. But I will say that it was a decision easily open to ... (how shall I put it?), criticism based on a deeper interpretation of the facts.”

“They made that choice in full knowledge of ‘74.”

“The Archives Branch was never run according to a transparent logic.”

“Do you think that perhaps ... ah, let’s say, someone’s brother-in-law played a pivotal role?”

“I am reluctant to speculate. And I should add that it may have been a perfectly rational decision once costs are fully accounted. I am not privy to the leasing arrangements that must have been made at that time.”

“You are suggesting, however, that locating the State Archive’s secondary warehouse in that area of the city was a decision that you -- had you been in charge at the time -- would have made differently.”

“There are always considerations of cost and as I ...”

“Yes you pointed that out, but surely, when we are talking about the Archive’s mandate to store and protect vital records, you would not have chosen a flood-plain as a likely place on which to build a warehouse for personal records that span our entire state history.”

The archivist does not reply.

“Do you have a comment?”

The archivist pulls his white beard. “It might be useful for me to clarify some key aspects of an archivist’s work.”

“Please continue.”

“It may be popularly assumed, regarding the work of a chief archivist, that it is his responsibility to “save” all public records. However, this is not precisely the case. Rather, it is the chief archivist’s responsibility to make a measured and consistent determination regarding which records must be saved, which can be abandoned and which must be abandoned to their fate. Of course, there can be a place in the safety of the archive for any record. But this is to presuppose willingness on the part of the highest of powers to ... to offer that infinite safety or ... sanctuary.”

The archivist continued, “We operate, you see, between the present and a future that has no earthly horizon. My task is to stand at that beginning point of the infinite and to consider each vital record and judge whether it shall or shall not be admitted into our care.”

The chairman broke in, “... or simply left to it’s fate to be swept away in muddy flood or burned in a fire set by vandals.”

“I make my judgment”, said the archivist, “according to the word of the Law and, while your language is severe, what you have said is essentially true.”