Traveling into the distant future, H. George Wells came across a collection of deteriorating books that that crumbed to the touch of his hand. At that point, he grew disgusted of the future hominids that occupied the planet, their lack of curiosity and knowledge allowed for the care and handling of those books. This scene from the 1960 film, The Time Machine, adapted from H.G. Wells' novella, shows a world evolved to a point where misunderstandings of the significance of acquiring knowledge have left the hominids enslaved to their primitive state.
It was only until the 1930s that it was discovered that the paper was made directly from wood pulp contained acidic compounds that deteriorated paper. Librarian William Barrow figured a way to neutralize pulp-based paper, which is the common type of paper many of us use today. This awareness of the vulnerability of the material we record information on/into has spurred the study of preservation and conservation and the continued investment in keeping more and more works for the purpose of containing and acquiring knowledge.