Sunday, October 19, 2008

Links & Reviews

This was a busy week, both for me and for biblio-news.

- This week marked the 250th anniversary of the birth of Noah Webster, which was celebrated with a symposium at Yale.

- LT passed a major milestone this week; it now contains more individual records than the Library of Congress (some 32.2 million). Abby notes: "The fun of LibraryThing isn't just in the widely held books, it's in those that are shared by only 10 or 20 other members. It's easy to find someone who has read The Hobbit. Finding someone to discuss your more obscure books isn't quite so simple. But on LibraryThing, you can. There are 8 members who list The National Uncanny: Indian Ghosts and American Subjects—8 members who can find each other and have a common interest. The "long tail" of LibraryThing is long indeed."

- Speaking of LT, Tim delivered a keynote speech at the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) forum in Cincinnati on Friday. Some reaction at LITA Blog, Wake Up Little Susie, Library Geek Woes, AL's Inside Scoop, eclectic librarian).

- ALA announced this week that issues of American Libraries dating back to 2003 will now be freely available to all, and that non-ALA members will be able to subscribe to AL's weekly newsletter, "American Libraries Direct." Good news indeed.

- The Boston Globe reports on an auction today of a 1786 edition of Nicholas Pike's Arithmetic, plus a three-page letter by George Washington commending the work. Other materials to be sold today include Pike's journal.

- In the New Yorker, Louis Menand comments on text-messaging. He writes "The texting function of the cell phone ought to have been the special province of the kind of people who figure out how to use the television remote to turn on the toaster: it’s a huge amount of trouble relative to the results." It's true. Since I refuse to use abbreviations, it can take me eons to type a text message. Menand takes issue with linguist David Crystal's conclusions that texting isn't a serious threat to the language as we know it, but closes his own essay by saying "Once the numeric keypad is replaced by the QWERTY keyboard on most mobile messaging devices, and once the capacity of those devices increases, we are likely to see far fewer initialisms and pictograms. Discourse will migrate back up toward the level of e-mail."

- The Library of Congress has pulled out of the bidding process for the collections of the Lincoln Museum (Fort Wayne, IN). Several finalists are believed to remain, and a winner should be announced by the end of the year.

- Joyce passes along a dispatch from Maud Newton, who attended the celebration for the 80th anniversary of the Oxford English Dictionary. More on the celebrations here.

- And via fade theory, an interview with Alberto Manguel from a Turkish newspaper.

- Denning McTague was released from jail on 15 September, having served just over twelve months of a 15-month term.

- The BL announced a £500,000 purchase of the literary archive of Ted Hughes, in more than two hundred boxes. Cataloguers expect to have the collection available by the end of 2009.

- Via LISNews, word that some of the libraries involved with the Google Books Project are pooling their resources to create a backup digital library. "One of the most important functions of the project, say its leaders, ... is to create a stable backup of the digital books should Google go bankrupt or lose interest in the book-searching business." Not a bad plan by any means.

- For The Guardian, David Garnett asks "Which are the best books that never existed?" Be sure to read the comments as well, some of which are excellent.

- Paul Collins has discovered a Canadian book-town: Sidney, British Columbia (with eleven bookshops in a five-block area). Sounds awfully pleasant to me!

- Everybody and their brother has already blogged about it, so I'll just make a quick link to the Wired piece on Jay Walker's amazing personal library (which is absolutely amazing).

- Also in the New Yorker, Jill Lepore has a fascinating look at presidential campaign biographies, with a special focus on those written for Andrew Jackson (this was what prompted me to pick up that 1828 edition of Eaton's Memoirs of Andrew Jackson from the Brattle yesterday).


- The Little Professor reviews the premiere episode of NBC's new series "Crusoe." I didn't watch on Friday night, but the episode is on Hulu now, so I'll probably take a look at it soon. My expectations couldn't be much lower.

- Kathryn Shevelow reviews Lisa Jardine's new book, Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland's Glory in the Washington Post.

- Also in the Post, Maureen Corrigan reviews Fernando Báez's A Universal History of the Destruction of Books and Larry McMurtry's Books. And boy does she take the pair of authors to task: these two books taken together, she writes, "deliver a one-two punch of New Age mysticism and cowboy cornpone that just about decks any viable defense of bibliophilia." The former she calls a "migraine-trigger," and of McMurtry, she says "For a guy who's made a tidy living by storytelling, he can barely be bothered to exhale a narrative: Chapters run three pages long -- or fewer -- and the plotline of his reminiscences about booksellers he's known and customers he's served simply evaporates like spittle on a hot coal."

- In the Boston Globe, Nigel Hamilton reviews Kathleen Burk's Old World, New World: Great Britain and America from the Beginning.

- At Reading Archives, Bernadette Callery reviews Christine Guth's Longfellow's Tattoos.

- The fourth volume of Arturo Perez-Reverte's Captain Alatriste series, The King's Gold, has now been published in English. Anna Mundow has a review in the Washington Post.

No comments: