Sunday, February 01, 2015

Links & Reviews

Lots to get to, so I'll dig right in:

- The Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences (Inion), one of Russia's largest university libraries, was destroyed by fire on Friday. More than a million historic documents, some 15% of the collection, are believed lost. More here.

- More than 250 firefighters fought a seven-alarm blaze at a Brooklyn warehouse housing state and city government records on Saturday. The building has been called a "total loss." Among the agencies with records stored in the building were New York state courts and New York City Administration for Children's Services, the Health and Hospitals Corporation, and the Greater New York Hospital Association.

- Electrician José Manuel Fernández Castineiras has gone on trial for the 2011 theft of the Codex Calixtinus from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The Codex, plus other items and cash stolen from the cathedral, were recovered a year later in Castineiras' garage. Castineiras faces up to 15 years in jail and a large fine; his lawyers argue that a confession and video showing him stuffing cash into his pockets should be suppressed. The electrician said Tuesday that he doesn't remember confessing to the theft.

- A coffin bearing the initials "M.C." has been found during a search for the remains of Miguel de Cervantes. The decaying casket was discovered in a crypt at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, where Cervantes is known to have been buried. The AP reports that identifying the bones as those of Cervantes may be possible, given battle wounds he is known to have suffered.

- The University of Pennsylvania has acquired more than fifty occult and alchemical manuscripts from the collection of Ralph George Algernon Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland (1728–1809).

- Scholars are making (very slow) progress on reading carbonized Herculaneum papyrus scrolls using non-destructive techniques.

- The AP ports that ISIL militants sacked libraries in the Iraqi city of Mosul last month, seizing more than 2,000 "infidel" books at the city's Central Library and burning hundreds at the University of Mosul. Archives at the Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers, the Mosul Museum, and other institutions were also reportedly ransacked.

- The University of Edinburgh's Centre for the History of the Book blog has begun a series highlighting useful books and online resources for book history students.

- The NEH and the Mellon Foundation are partnering to create open-access electronic editions of out-of-print humanities books.

- In the Jan/Feb issue of LCM, the magazine of the Library of Congress, LC archivist Cheryl Fox and Paper Conservation Section Head Holly Krueger note the long tradition of LC assisting other institutions in preserving their collections after disasters. [Warning: contains a very sad image of the New York State Library's Audubon elephant folio after the 1911 fire]

- Cornell University's hip-hop collection is going digital, Molly Karr reports for the Cornell Sun.

- In the 26 January New Yorker, Jill Lepore asks "Can the Internet be archived?"

- The Brontë Society at Haworth has acquired the mahogany writing table used by the siblings for £580,000, with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

- The Grolier Club's current exhibition on important children's literature was featured on "CBS Sunday Morning" today. Video.

- Americana Exchange has been renamed Rare Book Hub, and its monthly newsletter will now be called Rare Book Monthly.

- The woman who found the Cassady-Kerouac letter has now sued both estates and the Profiles in History auction house, seeking to quiet title to the document. Jean Spinosa maintains that her father rescued the letter, along with other materials from Golden Goose Press, when the press' proprietor closed up shop.

- The Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project has launched, featuring some 300 digitized ballads, a number of contextual essays, and more.

- BPL president Amy Ryan has been appointed the new chair of the DPLA Board of Directors.

- Sarah Hovde provides a very useful introduction to RDA at The Collation.

- New from the Pine Tree Foundation of New York, Manuscript Cookbooks Survey, a database of pre-1865 manuscript cookbooks in English. They're just getting started, but this promises to be a fascinating resource.

- The Voynich Manuscript has its day over at Manuscript Road Trip (speaking of which, the Voynich itself is currently on a road trip: it's on display at the Folger Shakespeare Library until the end of the month).

- Glenn Lafantasie writes for Salon about certain restrictions placed on papers of Robert E. Lee and his family members by their descendants.

- Catalogers in the Library of Congress Law Library recently identified a volume from Thomas Jefferson's library, long thought lost.

- New at UVA's Special Collections library, "William Blake, Visionary / Envisioning William Blake," an exhibition curated by David Whitesell.

- The new Peter Harrington Catalogue 107 includes preview videos for many of the items. [h/t John Overholt]

- Scientists are working on recovering papyrus fragments from low-quality mummy masks, Owen Jarus reports for LiveScience. Bits found so far include what may be the oldest known fragment from the Gospel of Mark, among other things. But the technique being used means that the mummy masks are destroyed in the process (and is thus somewhat controversial). The first volume of texts obtained will be published this year.

- Barbara Basbanes Richter highlights the Codex Gigas for the Fine Books Blog.

- The Grolier Club has digitized its Transactions and Gazette.

- The Bookplate Society is holding a web auction of several thousand bookplates and other items, many from the Stephanie and Brian Schofield collection of ladies' bookplates.

- Over at The Junto, Sara Georgini interviews Jeff McClurken about reviewing digital history for the JAH. Sara also interviews Richard S. Dunn about his book A Tale of Two Plantations.

- Johnson Publishing, the publisher of Ebony, is looking to sell its archive of more than five million photographs.

- Robert Pirie, well-known collector of 16th- and 17th-century English literature, died on 15 January. The NYTimes ran an obituary on 28 January.

- Sotheby's announced last week that as of 1 February buyers will pay more in premiums: now 25% on the first $200,000 of a hammer price.

- The Guardian reports on a new theory about the identify of the dedicatee of Shakespeare's Sonnets, WH: Geoffrey Caveney suggests that perhaps he can be identified as William Holme, a recently-deceased associate of the publisher.

- The Institute for English Studies has received a reprieve.

- Megan Gannon reports for LiveScience on the Sappho fragments hailed last year: Oxford papyrologist Dirk Obbink has revealed more about the provenance of the fragments in a recent paper.

- Laura Putre writes for Slate about the shortage of Pioneer Girl, a new annotated edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiography. The South Dakota State Historical Society Press initially printed 15,000 copies, but that and a second printing were exhausted almost immediately. A third print run is expected in March. Copies are selling for $50 and up on Amazon at the moment.

- From the "Oh for Pete's Sake" Department: the city of Shreveport, LA has shut down a Little Free Library, with zoning authorities saying that it is considered a commercial enterprise.

Book Reviews

- Jenny Uglow's In These Times; review by Leo Damrosch in the NYTimes.

- Benjamin Olshin's The Marco Polo Maps; review by Richard Walker in the Spectator (in which Walks asks how the University of Chicago Press could publish such a work).

- Eric Foner's Gateway to Freedom; reviews by Kevin Baker in the NYTimes and Elizabeth R. Varon in the WaPo.

- New editions of Lovecraft by Leslie Klinger and S.T. Joshi; review by Michael Dirda in the TLS.

- Molly Guptill Manning's When Books Went to War; review by Maureen Corrigan in the WaPo.

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