Scientist Lewis Dartnell published in 2014 a book entitled The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch, which basically argued that if a collapse occurred quickly (e.g. another EMP Carrington event) where there was a rapid die-off of most people, there would still be adequate resources left to rebuild if enough people used the scientific method. If the scientific method survives, then so does civilization. Just the thing a science type would say.
Now, that argument holds only if its premises are true – in particular that the collapse is a quick death. But it could very well be a death by 7 plus billion cuts with numerous crises, dragging the misery out. There go the resources and Dartnell’s dream and here comes The Road Warrior, sans hot cars and sans homo-erotica.
The question though of preserving knowledge is an interesting one. Another scientist, James Lovelock, thought that a book of basic knowledge (e.g. how to start a fire etc.) would be good. Other writers, such as a recent (February 3, 2017) contribution on “Intellectual Survival” at https://survivalblog.com/intellectual-survival-by-d-w/, support the idea of storing the great classic literature. The list given made me almost want to throw up, being primarily Christian books. One would hope that these books have high acid paper and would soon disintegrate, liberating what remains of the minds of the young.
It is far better to stockpile useful practical scientific and technological works, manuals on how to do things, of medical knowledge, herbal medicine and useful skills to pass on, to maybe one generation, before reading disappears and the human savage goes oral again.
Storing the classics is useless. As James LaFond said in a quotable passage in Taboo You:
“Most people, if shipwrecked with the Mona Lisa, would cling to it as they eked out a living, in hopes of being credited with or rewarded for preserving the world’s greatest masterpiece once rescued. I would use it for kindling to light my campfire.”
In the end, the “great” works of religion and philosophy, the piles of speculative scientific bullshit on multiverses and the like, the conflicting interpretations of quantum mechanics, not to mention the gigatonnes of politically correct feminist and socialist toxic rubbish, will all be burnt as kindling. No doubt for many barbarians burning such books it would be the next best thing to burning the authors of such works, for the authors will perish very quickly when the tit of Big Sister goes dry.