Saturday, December 18, 2010

Twenty Four Years Ago

Twenty four years ago, I donated hundreds of 35 mm slides to the Northern Arizona University (NAU) Special Collections.  They gave the donation a name: "The John Parsons Collection."  Well, time passed and those slides long ago dropped out of my memory banks and into the proverbial dust bin of history.

Until yesterday.

It was just another mundane morning until an unknown email popped up in Ye Ol' Inbox.  It bore the name of a stranger and appeared to be from NAU.  Huh?  Imagine my surprise when I realized the email was all about those slides donated in 1986.  I received two emails from the Special Collections Staff member.  There was a long time lag between the emails because of the bank robbery yesterday in Flagstaff and because the SWAT Team pretty much disrupted the library there.  But that's another story.

Anyway, the gist of the situation was that they want me to change the restrictions and copyright clauses of the original Deed of Gift.  Excerpts from the two emails are below separated by a dashed line. I added the BOLD here and there to highlight some memorable snippets.

 ----------------Begin Email #1 Excerpts----------------

I am writing in regards to your fine slide collection that has been housed at the Cline Library since December 1986.

As you know, your slide collection exquisitely documents several northern Arizona communities as well as the Phoenix area.

I see so much potential academic and scholarly use of these images; it is shame that they are not being accessed and used as much as they could be. 

-------End Email #1 Excerpts------------
(NOTE: I wrote back and agreed to make the changes in the Deed of Gift.)
-------Begin Email #2 Excerpts------------

I can’t tell you how excited we are that we are now able to provide access to your collection.

I will be sure to pass along the good news that we can use and will be digitizing images from your collection to our colleagues across the campus.

Another very impressive component of your collection is the hierarchical intellectual order and descriptive information associated with the images. You have organized the images to a level we could only hope to achieve. Your collection is one of the few that we will not have to touch in order to organize it. You have really done an amazing and impressive job! We plan on transcribing your thoughtful and informative contextual and biographical information in the finding guide that we will create for the collection.


Your collection of images is amazing.

-----------------------End of Email #2 Excerpts---------------

Well, suffice to say those developments yesterday were extraordinarily gratifying.  A quarter of a century is a LOOONG time to wait to hear anything about something.  Back in late 1986, I put huge amounts of time into selecting and documenting all those hundreds of slides.  I had to put a serial number on each of them and then provide "time-date-place" and write a narrative describing each one.  It was beyond tedious to say the least.
Many of my friends thought I was crazy for bothering to do all that stuff.  Only DF & LBR Wayne R. encouraged me to "carry on." (THANKS, Wayne!)

Back in 1986, the photos depicted things and places that were all too common and "taken for granted" then.  The passage of time has a way of bringing back a certain fondness for the "good old days."  Flagstaff, Phoenix and nearby communities have undergone epic change in the past 24 years.  My photos have finally been deemed "amazing" simply because I had the awareness that what we took for granted back then was soon going to disappear forever in the onslaught of Arizona's perpetual motion development juggernaut.

Receiving those emails yesterday was delicious vindication for all that time and effort invested 24 years ago this month.  When I emailed back to agree to the changes, I asked the Staff person if he would write a hard copy letter including his glowing comments.  I told him that it would be a lifelong memento that I would cherish forever.  He agreed.

As Napoleon Dynamite would say, "SWEET!"

Cheers, jp

6 comments:

Wayne Ranney said...

John: Were it not for you, I would not have the photo's I have in my collection! You were the inspiration and the light and to have you receive this recognition is just fantastic! Way to go Johnny boy!! We love you.

Kirsty said...

SWEET indeed. What a wonderful thing to know you have made some a meaningful contribution. Congratulations!

Kirsty said...

SUCH a meaningful contribution. GOSH (as Napoleon would say ;)

stasea said...

how do we get to see these slides?

Natalie Neal Whitefield said...

Totally Cool!

Marti Spudboater said...

I'm with Stasea; now you've piqued my interest and I want to see what you've given them, too. You are such a wordy SOB and were it not for you, I wouldn't be blogging, among other desparate or disparate things I do. Ibe there are some really awesome observations. Glad that ole Wayne Ranney and B Brown and Norm introduced us.