Saturday, May 10, 2014

Links & Reviews

- The NYPL's leadership announced this week that they have abandoned their much-panned renovation scheme known as the "Central Library Plan." More coverage from the WSJ and from Scott Sherman at The Nation. Scholar Caleb Crain, who pushed back against the ill-conceived plan from the get-go, weighed in. Much credit to him and to all of the others who worked so diligently to bring about this week's developments.

- MARIAB (Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers) is now SNEAB (Southern New England Antiquarian Booksellers), having added Connecticut booksellers to its remit.

- New from NINES and led by UVA's Andrew Stauffer is Book Traces, which seeks to identify marginalia and inserts in 19th- and early 20th-century volumes in open library stacks. Coverage of the project has appeared in The Atlantic, Hyperallergic, The New Atlantis, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

- Adam Kirsch's TNR piece "Technology is Taking Over English Departments: The False Promise of Digital Humanities" has spawned a number of valuable rebuttals, including Ted Underwood's "You can't govern reception," Glen Worthey's "Why are such terrible things written about DH? Kirsch v. Kirschenbaum," and Ryan Cordell's "On Ignoring Encoding." Worthey positions Kirsch's piece very aptly against Matt Kirschenbaum's "What is 'Digital Humanities,' and Why Are They Saying Such Terrible Things about It?," which is absolutely a must-read for anyone with any interest at all in these matters.

- The University of Illinois has launched Project Unica, an initiative to "preserve and share books that exist as sole survivors." The project has now been opened so that other university libraries can share digital copies of their own unique copies.

- At Atlas Obscura, a look at some of the remaining chained libraries.

- From Anne Trubek at Belt magazine, a look inside the famous bibliophilic Rowfant Club.

- The Getty Research Institute has acquired a late 16th-century liber amicorum compiled by Johann Joachim Prack von Asch, military attaché from the Holy Roman Empire to the Ottoman court.

- From The Guardian, a pretty interesting and amusing infographic, "How to tell you're reading a gothic novel."

- In the Chronicle, Marc Parry reports on libraries' use of "discovery tools."

- By this time, if you haven't heard about the 21 April announcement from booksellers George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler that they've found what they believe to be a dictionary annotated by Shakespeare, you've been sleeping quite well indeed! Their site on the book is Shakespeare's Beehive. Garrett Scott rounded up very nearly all of the news reports and posts (skeptical and otherwise) on the topic, so I'm not going to repeat that process - but do go read through the links he's collected. I've spent a decent amount of time looking at the images of the volume (and have asked for an image of the front pastedown and flyleaf, to no avail thus far), and am unconvinced that the book was Shakespeare's, but it's certainly a notable volume and one very much deserving of thorough study.

- A 1482 printed Torah sold at Christie's Paris this week for $3.8 million.

- Over at Public Domain Review, Mike Jay writes on John Robison and his "exposé" of the Illuminati in "Darkness Over All."

- Also at PDR, Nicholas Humphrey writes on animal trials of the medieval period.

- From bookseller Lorne Blair, a great story of finding the right home for Andrew Jackson's family Bible.

- Peter Suber, director of Harvard's Office for Scholarly Communication, writes on takedown notices Harvard received from mega-publisher Elsevier.

- From the UK National Archives blog, Jo Pugh asks if something in an archive can ever be "discovered." A good discussion of the question, actually.

- From the Department of Utterly Ridiculous, the Ohio Historical Society will officially change its name to the Ohio History Connection after surveys reportedly showed that people found the words "historical" and "society" to be "too exclusive and antiquated." Sigh.

- In the same vein, Mireille Silcoff's piece in the New York Times Magazine on physical books "becoming sexy" as furniture/decoration.

- Kembrew McLeod writes at The Atlantic about the great hoaxer George Psalmanazar.

- The Milwaukee Public Library is considering the sale or long-term loan of the iconic painting "The Bookworm," by Carl Spitzweg. An offer of $400,000 has been received for the piece, donated to the library in 1972 by René Von Schleintz. Over at Book Trade Ephemera, more on the use(s) of this painting in various ephemeral forms.

- Via Bethany Nowviskie on Twitter, a Neatline representation of Sterne's Sentimental Journey.

- The University of Chicago libraries offered a $1,000 prize to anyone who could identify a shorthand script used to annotate a 1504 edition of Homer's Odyssey. Less than a week passed before the prize was claimed by Daniele Metilli, an Italian computer engineer.

- From Erin Blake at The Collation, an exploration of the displaying of variant titles in catalog records, with a call for comments from catalog users.

- In case you missed it: the BSA awarded its 2014 St. Louis Mercantile Library Prize for outstanding scholarship in the bibliography of American history and literature to Joseph J. Felcone for his Printing in New Jersey, 1754-1800: A Descriptive Bibliography (AAS, 2013).

- There's a new (and very useful) index to APHA's Printing History.

- Carolyn Kellogg reports on a new, hi-tech quest to discover the bones of Cervantes in the Convent of las Trinidades Descalzas in Madrid. A more in-depth story from Fiona Govan in the Telegraph.

- In The Guardian, Paul Laity writes on the history of Penguin's Pelican imprint.

- At The Junto, Sara Georgini rounds up some newly-released or forthcoming titles on early American history for your summer reading pleasure.

- Also at The Junto, Jonathan Wilson on colonial commencement ceremonies.

- In Slate's series on design, Michael Agresta writes on library design in "What Will Become of the Library?"

- Jonathan Green uses Eric White's census of incunable print runs to produce some distribution graphs.

- While I'm not sure the name was the best choice, I'm interested to see that the Navy is going to offer its sailors a Navy eReader Device (NeRD), filled with e-books (but with no means of adding more, as the whole thing comes preloaded).

Reviews

- Lynne Cheney's James Madison: A Life Reconsidered; review by Gordon S. Wood in the NYTimes.

- Fred Kaplan's John Quincy Adams: American Visionary; review by Robert W. Merry in the NYTimes.

- Margery Heffron's Louisa Catherine: The Other Mrs. Adams; review by Virginia DeJohn Anderson in the NYTimes.

- Stephen H. Grant's Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Daniel Brown's The Poetry of Victorian Scientists; review by Angelique Richardson in the TLS.

- Russell Shorto's Amsterdam; review by Philipp Blom in the TLS.

- Jonathan Israel's Revolutionary Ideas; review by Ruth Scurr in the WSJ.

- John Drury's Music at Midnight; review by Barton Swaim in the WSJ.

- Bruce Holsinger's A Burnable Book; review by Stephanie Downes in the Sydney Morning Herald.

- Stuart Bennett's Lord Moira's Echo; review by Rebecca Rego Barry at Fine Books Blog.

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