Ephemera is transitory written and printed matter not intended to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day. Some collectible ephemera are advertising trade cards, airsickness bags, bookmarks, catalogues, greeting cards, letters, pamphlets, postcards, posters, prospectuses, stock certificates, tickets and zines. Decks of personality identification playing cards from the war in Iraq are a recent example.
In library and information science, the term ephemera also describes the class of published single-sheet or single page documents which are meant to be thrown away after one use. This classification excludes simple letters and photographs with no printing on them, which are considered manuscripts or typescripts. Large academic and national libraries and museums may collect, organize, and preserve ephemera as history. A particularly large and important example of such an archive is the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Ephemera (ἐφήμερα) is a noun, the plural neuter of ephemeron and ephemeros, Greek and New Latin for ἐπί - epi "on, for" and ἡμέρα - hemera "day" with the ancient sense extending to the mayfly and other short lived insects and flowers and for something which lasts a day or a short period of time.
By extension, Video Ephemera and Audio Ephemera refer to transitory audiovisual matter not intended to be retained or preserved. Surprisingly, the great bulk of video and audio expression has, until recently, been ephemeral. Early TV broadcasts were not preserved (indeed, the technology to preserve them postdates the invention of television). Even if radio and television stations preserve archives of their broadcasts, those backcatalogs are inaccessible in practice to the general public, leaving it to a small underground of tape traders to exchange the rare, lucky moments when something unexpected or historical came across the air.
An article on the Ephemera Society of America website notes
Printed ephemera gave way to audio and video ephemera in the twentieth century. ... These present even more of a preservation problem than printed materials. Although seldom made available for libraries, when videotapes are acquired for archival preservation they are found to be made on low quality tape, poorly processed, and damaged from abuse by users.
'Your eyes that
once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning.'
'Although our love is waning, let us stand
By the lone border of the lake once more,
Together in that hour of gentleness
When the poor tired child, Passion, falls asleep:
How far away the stars seem, and how far
Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!'
Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,
While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:
'Passion has often worn our wandering hearts.'
The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves
Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once
A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;
Autumn was over him: and now they stood
On the lone border of the lake once more:
Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves
Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,
In bosom and hair.
'That we are tired, for other loves await us;
Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual farewell.'
Species: E. danica - E. glaucops - E. lineata - E. mccaffertyi - E. vulgata