The Story Behind the Book

Writers, editors, translators, designers, and publishers know that archives are a valuable part of literary life – but not until later, after they become famous. In this informative, delightful book, Laura Millar, a prominent Canadian archival consultant, inspires everyone involved in writing and publishing – including the not-yet-famous – to value their paper and digital records right now, and to preserve them for future generations.

Millar’s love of literature, and the processes that bring it about and make it available to posterity, shine from every page. She writes passionately about what archives are, how they work, and why they matter. She presents clear explanations and step-by-step instructions, all enhanced by anecdotes detailing the lengths to which archives will go to acquire literary history: the National Library of Scotland’s purchase of the business archives of the publishing house John Murray for £31 million; Sotheby’s auctioning the edited page proofs for Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure for £162,500; one letter from D.H. Lawrence to Juliette Huxley that sold for £1,875.

Millar argues compellingly and charmingly that the ultimate value of archives lies not in the information they contain, but in the sense of identity we create by preserving them, and in the knowledge and wisdom we gain from using them. Her book is a practical how-to, an indispensable reference, and a call to writers and publishers to begin archiving our rich literary history today.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Ian Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, March 31, 2009


Chapter 1 / Putting a Price on Literary Archives

Chapter 2 / Why Care about Archives?

Chapter 3 / The Importanceof Literary Archives

Chapter 4 / What Is Worth Keeping?

Chapter 5 / The Heart of Literary Archives

Chapter 6 / Who Collects LiteraryArchives?

Chapter 7 / Finding a Home for Your Records

Chapter 8 / Negotiating an Archival Agreement

Chapter 9 / Managing Your Current Records

Chapter 10 / Managing Electronic Records

Chapter 11 / Common Questions

Chapter 12 / Where to Go for More Information



About the Author

Laura Millar has worked as an archival, editorial, and information management consultant for more than twenty-five years, and she is the award-winning author of more than forty books and articles on archives, publishing, and distance education. She also teaches editing, writing, and information management at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Victoria. In 1984 she became the first graduate of UBC’s Master of Archival Studies program, and she received her PhD in archival studies from the University of London in 1996. She has consulted for governments and agencies around the world. She and her husband live in Roberts Creek, British Columbia.