Brainchild of U.S. librarian of congress James H. Billington, the World Digital Library launched early this week. Increased is the internet/computer having world’s access to high quality digital representations of cultural artifacts. Novelties include browse by interactive timeline scroll bar, Dewey decimal based cataloging, serious zooming function, and not crashing in its first few hours like Europeana did.

nice reference

man we aint found shitLibrary Journal has just released a comprehensive list of ‘best of reference’ 2009. Nice! We definitely plan to reference this list of references. For cheapskates/lazy home office bloggers like us, they’ve also included best of free web reference, which we’ve copied wholesale and pasted to the inside of this post (sticky, gross).


“In better times the mall was the gathering spot. Now it’s the library.” This quote from the Raleigh News and Observer (1/24/09) is not unique in this respect. Many recent articles and reports tell of people turning to libraries during times of economic hardship. A Harris Poll revealed 75 percent of Americans have library cards, and libraries are reporting an increase in use of services, collections, and the Internet. This year’s list of best free web sites includes resources about the economy as well as sites that allow us to celebrate achievement.

Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project: Lincoln/Net lincoln.lib.niu.edu
With full-text access to over 3500 historical documents from Lincoln’s Illinois years (1830–61), including writings and speeches, this collaborative project based at Northern Illinois University is one of the richest online resources about our 16th President. Here you can read or listen to his biography and view vignettes of his life through text, images, and videos.

The Alfred Russel Wallace Page www.wku.edu/~smithch/index1.htm
The reading of Wallace’s paper “On the Tendency of Varieties To Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type,” along with unpublished fragments from the writings of Charles Darwin on July 1, 1858, before the Linnean Society of London gained Wallace lasting fame as the “co-discoverer of the principle of natural selection.” Librarian Charles Smith demonstrates through this site rich with full-text transcriptions of Wallace’s writings that he was so much more.

CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, “your pathway to career success” assists in exploring careers, writing résumés, interviewing, and locating jobs. Though brought to the web by the State of Minnesota, the site provides links to other states and to nearly 2000 OneStopCareer Centers nationwide.

The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online darwin-online.org.uk
This site, directed by John van Wyhe at the University of Cambridge, began in 2002 to assemble all of Darwin’s published and unpublished writings. The result is the largest Darwin resource ever created, with 75,914 pages of searchable text and 184,561 images. With the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species in 2009, the 70 million users who already visit the site should swell drastically.

Documenting the American South docsouth.unc.edu
This collection of primary resources about the culture, literature, and history of the American South was created by and is primarily from the holdings of the University Libraries of the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. Read first-person narratives of women, slaves, and soldiers; discover Southern literary works dating from the Colonial period; and listen to interviews on topics such as civil rights and politics.

Earth Portal www.earthportal.org
Touted as an “accurate, authoritative, accessible” global resource for science-based information about the environment, Earth Portal is governed by the Environmental Information Coalition and consists of three components: The Encyclopedia of Earth (with over 3500 articles), Earth Forum (commentary and discussions with the public), and Earth News (news stories on environmental issues).

Economic Indicators www.census.gov/cgi-bin/briefroom/BriefRm
Economic News Releases www.bls.gov/bls/newsrels.htm
Ever wonder where the news outlets get the monthly housing starts, or how they learn whether retail trade sales are up or down? These data are released like clockwork by the U.S. Census Bureau. The former site has info on current indicators and historic time series. The latter keeps employment and earnings data and price indexes.

Encyclopedia of Alabama www.encyclopediaofalabama.org
An excellent example of a well-designed site on the history, culture, and geography of a U.S. state. Developed by the Alabama Humanities Foundation and Auburn University, it includes enhanced multimedia content. Use the site to search for the “Selma to Montgomery March” of 1965, or look for information on To Kill a Mockingbird, set in fictional Maycomb between 1932 and 1935.

MAPLight.org; Money and Politics: Illuminating the Connection maplight.org
This nonprofit site explores the connections between campaign donations and Congressional voting. This matching of interest groups with legislators will no doubt be explored in the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

MRQE: Movie Review Query Engine www.mrqe.com
MRQE is the ultimate place “where people talk about movies.” Relaunched with expanded content, it’s the largest online database of movie reviews, partnering with leading movie blogs to collect and make searchable their content. From Slumdog Millionaire to Sundance, it’s all here.

Poetry Foundation www.poetryfoundation.org
The publisher of Poetry magazine has developed a web site that exists to share the discovery and celebration of poetry. The full text of Poetry from 1998 is available, as is a historical index that dates to its 1912 origin. Use the Poetry Tool to search for information about poets or for poems by title, author, first line, or occasion.

UNdata data.un.org
“A world of information” is at your fingertips by browsing data series or searching by keyword more than 55 million records from the databases of the UN on employment, education, energy, environment, health, population, refugees, and much more.

Cynthia Etkin is a librarian in Washington, DC, and Brian E. Coutts is a librarian in Bowling Green, KY.

kicking culture in the !@$%ing face

assholeThe (epic) Fales Library at NYU (an archive housed within the larger Bobst library, we believe) has a bitchin’ collection of anthologies, zines, writings, and other ephemera from the NY downtown scene in the 70s and 80s called the Downtown Collection. The website is barely functional, with lots of broken image links, but you can still get in there a little bit. Our two favorite titles: Just Another Asshole #6, and How German Is It

library pr0n

shelvesCheck these hot pixxx of stone cold smokin’ libraries all over the world. Yep, it’s “Red Hot and Filthy Library Smut“, brought to us by thenoist.com, featuring photos from the book Libraries by Candida Hofer.

They sum it up:
…one rich, sumptuous, photo of a library interior after another. It’s like porn for book nerds. Seriously. They are gorgeous photos, nearly all without visitors and just begging to be entered.


Library Murder on the Orient Express

library destructiconOh, they shut down the mighty Donnell library, where we used to research term papers in the eighth grade*, to make room for a boom-era hotel owned by Orient-Express Enterprises Incorporated LLC. Now the economy’s gone all bust and the hotel is high-tailin’ it back to the Orient Asia. So what now? The original plans called for a scaled-back mini-library, from 42,000 square feet of public space to 19,000.

What will become of the gutted building? Affordable housing? Archive-style lofts? Spiraling Skyscraper Farms?

*100 note-card minimum, and oh, they had old copies of Playboy at periodicals circulation!

The Times has some decent reporting of the original reaction to the Library’s closing (woops, we missed this one back in the sleep days of early Suggested Donation), including a link to a decades long battle over who should have these old flea bitten winnie the pooh dolls. Go away, Britons, we got this. You can have Christopher Robin.


Punch Card from the Public Liberry


Our office has a scanner, and we have a library book titled The Causes of the American Civil War (slavery! And nothing else. I did not read the book). Sounds like a winning formula for an SD post to me.

The book, which we found on the stoop of a brownstone in Brooklyn, is three days and 28 years overdue. At 1981 rates—ten cents per day—the person who checked it out owes the Library $1022.30  in fines (and in 2006, that dime went up to 25 cents a day).

According to NYPL’s FAQ website, “If you owe the library fines or fees over $15.00 . . . or have any fines or overdues more than one month old, your borrowing privileges may be suspended.”

We wonder if whoever (whomever?) checked this volume out in the first Reagan administration won’t face more serious consequences than a revoked library card.

Unfortunately, the punch card’s declaration, “THIS CARD WILL BE PROCESSED BY COMPUTER,” is misleading.  I stabbed that little bastard into a DVD drive a bunch of times and all that happened is that my iMac started making whining noises.
Ah, punch cards. We barely knew ye.

what, me worry, kein-ein-hora

comicHot on the heels of Jesse Aaron Cohen’s 50th email exhibition of photos, graphic art, and ephemera, a bunch of Brown University comic-collecting nerds are showing off their collection, organized by theme: violence, prejudice, the threat of war, environmental devastation, and media manipulation. Oy.

Naw, we like serious lowbrow/highbrow mixups like this. The National Yiddish Book Center announces a traveling exhibition of NuJewish Comix.*

*not the real name of the exhibition.

We are saddened by the lack of web presence of this show, but maybe once it ends, you’ll tell your mother you love her and give her a call already?

hot live 24/7 librarian chat

librarian the original googleSpeaking of chatspeak, The NYPL’s Ask-a-Librarian page offers 24-hour chat access to a friendly librarian chatter/chattrix. Hello, nurse!

We came across this page after checking out Radical Reference, another ask-a-librarian site that specializes in helping activists and independent journalists (we consider ourselves the latter).

Thanks for the help, you wonderful people.

Sorry Cologne, that really stinks

cologneUgh. The Cologne city archives were destroyed today in a building collapse. The Times of London is suitably melodramatic: The German city of Cologne woke up yesterday without a memory. Welllllll, ok.

And wow, much like Brangelina’s new home on Long Island, there was a nuclear bomb proof Panic Room/Fallout Shelter–and it was used as a Janitor’s closet.

When the building was constructed, a small nuclear-bomb proof chamber was included in the cellar to protect the most precious pieces. But in recent years, the chamber has been used only to store cleaning material.

Works by Hegel and Marx were lost, along with town hall minutes dating back to 1376.

Real Life vs. Internets Life

Email Exhibition ImageArchivist, SD conspirator, and web-1.0 aficionado Jesse Aaron Cohen has just celebrated the 50th installment of his monthly email exhibition series, a set of curated images and links sent to subscribers once a month for the past several years. Often the material is drawn from his day job as archivist at a yiddish library/archive in Manhattan, but over the years there’s been plenty of other cultural ephemera included in the exhibitions. They are awesome! Subscribe to them!

Slides from all 50 months-worth of exhibitions are going to be shown as part of an upcoming ‘real life‘ event on internet bloggers and artists.

Quoth the Archivist:

A bunch of internet artists and bloggers who will be doing 4 hours ‘in real life’. As part of this guy Lance’s presentation, he is asking several other artists to show their work via slide show, and I am giving him all 50 exhibitions to use. So my exhibitions will be featured alongside a bunch of other projects on 8 March, 12–4pm, at the Capricious Art Space in W-burg.

Capricious Space
103 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(between Bedford and Berry)

Gallery hours
(from March 7–March 28 only):
Saturday noon–8pm
Sunday noon–8pm
And some additional evening hours for special events, see the official calendar for full details.

Field Recorders’ Collective Recording Collective

This is a private/public synthersis we want to get behind–a collective (read: record label) providing access to private collections of old timey hill music and photographs, complete with digital mastering, and so forth. But maybe we spoke too soon…

They talk a smooth game:

…the Field Recorders’ Collective hopes to “democratize” these collections and see them form a public archive. This is opposed to seeing them disappear in the “black hole” of university and government archives which are, at best, difficult to gain entrance to or at worse, only for those with credentials for accessing them. We hope you will find the FRC releases an important addition to your traditional music library.

So, a “public” archive is created through private consumption, and public archives are strawmanned as inaccessible.