Politicians’ papers are not only historical documents. They are also repositories of legal and evidential facts, as became clear in 1974 when Richard Nixon brokered an agreement that allowed him to retain control of thousands of hours of tape recordings. Congress was not happy. Later that year they passed the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act to regain control of the tapes. Nixon challenged the legislation in the courts, arguing that technology of this kind was not part of the national record but private property. In 1977 his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court, and the National Archives began processing the tapes.
Contrary to some assumptions, libraries have not closed during the current pandemic. The entrenched view of libraries is that they are just physical places where communities come together to access knowledge. Covid-19 has upended these assumptions. The question, for all libraries, as the crisis was unfolding in March, was whether we would support our communities better by staying open and continuing to provide the services that need the physical spaces to operate, or by closing, as libraries are busy places where the disease could easily spread, affecting frontline library staff as well as users.