‘I would like to know your view of keeping yearbooks,’ one reader asks, who has clutter cleared a lot of photos but still has a couple of yearbooks from high school. ‘I asked people I know well and they told me I should keep them. I don’t know what to do.’
I had to research this question before replying. I was brought up in England, have never seen a yearbook, and couldn’t imagine what use one could possibly be.
So that says something in itself. The only mementos I have from my school days are a few scanned photos of myself and my family, and I don’t feel the least bit deprived because that’s all I have. In fact, I’m sure my life would have been very different if I’d kept all my childhood stuff and tried to drag it around with me each time I moved. I wouldn’t have done half the things I’ve done or lived in many of the places I’ve lived.
My American friends tell me that yearbooks are part of the US and Canadian educational system, and they are usually very weighty volumes. Perhaps because they contain photos of people who were once friends, many people find it difficult to just throw them away.
These days, yearbooks are mostly done online, so the question about what to do with the printed editions is one that future generations won’t even ask. It will all be stored digitally, for better or for worse.
What’s my advice?
My advice for those who still have them and can’t quite bear to let them go is to get a sharp knife, a paper cutter, and a double-sided scanner. Cut open the yearbook binding, trim any frayed pages, and then feed them all through the machine. The best reasonably-priced scanner I’ve found is the Fujitsu ScanSnap. It can scan 50 pages per minute, double-sided and in full colour while you get on with your life.
If the binding is very thick, you may want to take your yearbooks to a printing company and pay them to slice them open using one of their big commercial paper cutters. This will give you a much neater edge for easier scanning too.
You can store the resulting PDF file on your computer and probably never look at it again, but at least you’ll know it’s there if you ever want it, and it won’t be taking up space in your home. Check the copyright information page at www.yearbookdigital.com before you do this to make sure your yearbooks are in the public domain and scanning them will not infringe any US copyright laws.
Is it worth the time and expense?
Probably not, but these days a scanner is an essential piece of equipment for anyone wanting to run a paper-free office, so if you’re going to use it for that purpose too, it would be a very worthwhile investment.
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