Sunday, July 26, 2015

Links & Reviews

- An employee of the French National Library has been detained in connection to the theft of more than forty engravings from the Library's Richelieu-Louvois branch. Twenty maps were also reported missing from the same branch earlier in the summer. The missing engravings were reported and the "trail ultimately led to a Belgian bookseller who had purchased 20 engravings from a Dutch collector. In turn, that collector identified the employee who had sold him the works."

- A librarian at the library of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts is accused of replacing some 140 paintings with his own forgeries. Xiao Yuan sold some of the paintings at auction between 2004 and 2011 for millions. He said he realized how rampant forgery and theft were at the library when he noticed that some of his own forgeries had been replaced by forgeries by others!

- A House committee chairman has proposed eliminating the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

- David Weinberger writes about the "library-shaped hold in the Internet" for the Boston Globe. Don't miss this one.

- The Lambeth Palace Library is working to document the provenance of the books once held in the Sion College Library (now in the Lambeth collections).

- From Erin Blake at The Collation, a look back at a preservation technology of the past: photostats.

- A 1,500-year-old scroll found at Ein Gedi has been "digitally unrolled," revealing the text within (from the book of Leviticus). More scrolls found at the same site may be deciphered next by the same team.

- NYPL post-doctoral fellow Mark Boonshoft writes about two recently-digitized business letterbooks from late 18th-century New York.

- What may be the oldest known Koranic fragments have been identified at the University of Birmingham: scholars think that the manuscript may "take us back to within a few years of the founding of Islam."

- NYU's Tamiment Library has acquired the editorial archives of The Nation.

- The National Library of Medicine has digitized more than 200 ESTC items from its holdings, and has announced a three-year partnership with the USTC to digitize the "rarest European materials" in the NLM's collections.

- George Mason University has launched a graduate certificate in Digital Public Humanities.

- Margaret K. Hofer has been named Vice President and Museum Director at the New-York Historical Society.

- Cambridge University has digitized several examples of early Chinese texts and printing for inclusion in the Cambridge Digital Library. One text included is a rare 17th-century example of color printing, considered so fragile that it has been completely unavailable for scholarly study.

- Over at Past is Present, Paul Erickson highlights a letter in the AAS collections from Moses Paul to Samson Occom.

- Yale's Beinecke Library is digitizing more than 2,000 videocassettes for preservation and cataloging.

- Amy Brunvand, a librarian at the University of Utah, has a piece in the new C&RL News, "Taking Paper Seriously: A Call for Format-Sensitive Collection Development." Very much worth a read.

- The University of Iowa Libraries are beginning to digitize items from their extensive collections of fan fiction.


- Anthony Amore's The Art of the Con; review by Wendy Smith in the WaPo.

- Matthew Battles' Palimpsest; review by Mark Kingwell in the Globe and Mail.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Links & Reviews

- A bound copy of twenty issues of All the Year Round has been determined to be annotated by Charles Dickens himself, revealing the authorship of more than 2,500 contributions to the publication. Wilkie Collins expert Paul Lewis called the find "the Rosetta Stone of Victorian studies."

- Rachel Shteir writes about the reorganization/redecoration of the Strand Bookstore in New York in the New Yorker. I haven't seen the new layout yet, but it seems an unfortunate change.

- Karla Nielsen offers a rundown of what look at the papers of Harper Lee's literary agents, in the collections of Columbia's Rare Book & Manuscript Library, can tell us about the Go Set a Watchman story.

- The AAS has acquired an important July 1774 Boston broadside printed by loyalist printer Margaret Draper.

- The first section of Pierre Bergé's library will be sold at Hôtel Drouot in Paris on 11 December. Several additional sales will follow in 2016 and 2017.

- Carolyn Waters has been named the Head Librarian of the New York Society Library.

- David Bahr talked to Gordon Wood for the Weekly Standard about the two-volume collection of Revolutionary-era pamphlets he's recently edited for the Library of America.

- A new Woodberry Poetry Room podcast takes us deep into the Houghton Library stacks.

- A $1.25 million grant from the Mellon Foundation will fund "research, education and training at the intersections of digital humanities and African American studies at the University of Maryland."

- Simon Beattie's got quite an interesting puzzle: a 19th-century binder's stamp for an "American binding workshop" in Simferopol.

- New York's Rizzoli Bookstore will reopen at 1133 Broadway (at 26th Street) on 27 July.

- For the CSM, Erik Spanberg talked with Joseph Ellis about his new book The Quartet.

- An exhibition on the Book of Common Prayer has opened at Drew University.

- The text is behind a paywall, but Haaretz reports that German police have confiscated Franz Kafka and Max Brod manuscripts believed to have been smuggled out of Israel.


- Hugh Aldersey-Williams' In Search of Sir Thomas Browne; review by Jim Holt in the NYTimes.

- Stephen Jarvis' Death and Mr. Pickwick; review by Michael Upchurch in the NYTimes.

- John Leigh's Touché: The Duel in Literature; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Paul Slack's The Invention of Improvement; review by Alexandra Walsham in the TLS.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Links & Reviews

- According to a Daily Sabah report, two manuscripts stolen from a library in Turkey in 2000 were returned after a doctoral student determined that the manuscripts had made their way to the Schoenberg collection at Penn.

- In The Atlantic, Henry Grabar covers the Smithsonian's use of 3-d printing technology to replicate artifacts.

- The New York Public Library has posted an update on the status of the Rose Main Reading Room: continuing asbestos removal and work on the reading room ceiling will keep the room closed until early 2017. They say they hope to be able to open the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room by the fall of 2016.

- From Eric Kwakkel, an overview of medieval book-theft-prevention techniques.

- A copy of the 1599 Oxford edition of Richard de Bury's Philobiblon will go on the block Tuesday at Sotheby's London. Presale estimates are £5,000–7,000.

- Over at the New Yorker's Culture Desk, Brown professor Elias Muhanna writes about "Hacking the Humanities."

- The New Mexico Commission of Public Records has issued a "warning" that the sale of state public records online is illegal, though they say they know of no recent cases of such sales.

- A German court has ruled that the descendants of Joseph Goebbels are to be paid royalties for quotations from Goebbels' diaries published in a biography by Peter Longerich. The publishers say they will appeal the ruling.

- MHS Librarian Peter Drummey is profiled by Bloomberg News' Tom Moroney.

- John Fea talks to Carla Mulford about her new book Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire.

- Simon Beattie highlights the first edition of the first library classification system published in Russia, devised for the Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg and published in 1809.

- It's a little simplistic, but Michael Rosenwald has a piece in the Washington Post about the "prints to digital" shift in public libraries.

- Andrew Albanese, writing for Publishers Weekly, asks whether the nomination of the next Librarian of Congress could spark a political battle.

- E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan have been released as e-books by HarperCollins, and the publisher has launched a trailer for the e-version of Charlotte's Web. It's a cute trailer, mostly, though I was struck by the taglines at the end: "A timeless classic for the digital generation" and "Rediscover the magic with your kids." The trailer rather undercuts that second message, showing a young girl sitting alone (well, nearly; her dog is present) on her bed, staring at her tablet, while her mom stands silently in the doorway before walking away with a smile on her face. I'm not sure why this bothered me as much as it did: maybe it's just because I grew up hearing and then reading Charlotte's Web myself (and later reading it out loud to two cousins over a vacation week), but I found that shot profoundly sad: go, read with her, mom! (Not to mention the fact that I've always found the book itself perfectly magical enough, without any bells or whistles.)
- As a good antidote to the above, may I suggest Meghan Cox Gurdon's "The Great Gift of Reading Aloud"?


- Leona Francombe's The Sage of Waterloo; review by Laline Paull in the NYTimes.

- Hugh Aldersey-Williams' In Search of Sir Thomas Browne; review by Spencer Lenfield in Slate.

- Noah Charney's The Art of Forgery; review by Adrian Higgins in the WaPo.

- Natasha Pulley's The Watchmaker of Filigree Street; review by Amal El-Mohtar in the LATimes.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Links & Reviews

- The British Library's conference "The Written Heritage of Mankind in Peril" conference was held last week in London. The Economist's Prospero columnist has a recap, and Emily Sharpe reported on the conference for The Art Newspaper. I hope that audio or video of the conference will be posted.

- Meanwhile, ILAB president Norbert Donhofer has put his conference talk online.

- The Economist piece referenced above includes an interesting tidbit: the purchaser of the Gutenberg Bible fragment sold at auction in June was Stephan Lowentheil of The 19th Century Rare Book & Photograph Shop.

- Library History Seminar XIII will be held at Simmons College from 31 July–2 August. Ann Blair and David Weinberger are the keynote speakers, and there are a great number of fascinating talks on tap. I'm particularly sorry to miss the "New Approaches to the History of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Libraries" panel, featuring presentations by Kyle Roberts, Cheryl Knott, David J. Gary, and Mitch Fraas.

- The NYTimes has added another wrinkle to the saga of this new Harper Lee novel: Serge Kovaleski and Alexandra Alter report that the manuscript was found in 2011, not just last fall as has been previously reported.

- Tim Sherrat has posted his keynote address delivered this week at DH2015, "Unremembering the forgotten."

- Many thanks to Steve Ferguson for pointing out that Nicolas Barker's Foxcroft Lecture about forgeries, delivered May 2014 at the State Library of Victoria, is available to view online.

- Lynne Farrington has a great post up at Unique at Penn, "Return of the Prodigal Book."

- Rebecca Rego Barry reports from the Library of Congress on the current exhibition of early American printing, which includes (through the end of August only) not one by two copies of the Bay Psalm Book.

- Nicola Davis reports for the Guardian on the newspaper digitization efforts at the BL's Boston Spa facility, near Leeds, as well as other advanced preservation and digitization work.

- Atlas Obscura's Andy Wright talked to yours truly for a profile of Rare Book School this week.

- Speaking of RBS, a 2012 piece on the Hinman Collator which accompanied a NYTimes article on the school made the rounds this week, and I can't remember seeing it at the time.

- The HRC announced an open-access policy this week, and simultaneously launched Project REVEAL, an effort to digitize and make available 25 major manuscript collections. More than 22,000 images are now posted and ready for use.

- Audrie Schell, a conservator at McMaster University, is profiled by Kate Taylor in the Globe and Mail. The piece focuses on Schell's work on a manuscript book of hours.

- It probably goes without saying that I am very much in favor of projects like this: new online descriptions of the early catalogues of Lambeth Palace Library (for the period 1610–1785) are being prepared and posted.

- UNC Chapel Hill has received a $986,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation to digitize rare audio, video and motion picture films from the Southern Folklife Collection.

- Scott Sherman, writing in the New York Daily News, asks just what became of the $100 million gift made to the NYPL by Stephen Schwarzman in 2008.

- Mike Cummings writes for YaleNews about Audubon's Birds of America, focusing on Yale's two copies of the elephant folio and the Audubon manuscripts at the Beinecke.

- Ending a lengthy and dare I say Kafka-esque legal battle, an Israeli court has ruled that a collection of Franz Kafka's manuscripts rightly belong to the National Library in Jerusalem and has ordered that they be transferred to the library.

- Bruce McKinney writes in the July Rare Book Monthly about trends in the book-collecting world, concluding "for the collectible book field to prosper we'll need to restore collecting a middle class prerogative," blaming current tax policies (and, I must add, the burden of student loan debt) for a decrease in the number of young, active collectors.


- Helen Castor's Joan of Arc: A History; review by Amanda Foreman in the NYTimes.

- Kathleen DuVal's Independence Lost; review by Woody Holton in the NYTimes.

- Joseph Ellis' The Quartet; reviews by Michiko Kakutani in the NYTimes and David O. Stewart in the WaPo.

- Philip and Carol Zaleskis' The Fellowship; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Sally Harvey's Domesday; review by Alex Burghart in the TLS.

- David Sehat's The Jefferson Rule and Andrew Burstein's Democracy's Muse; review by Fergus Bordewich in the WSJ.

- Michael Blanding's The Map Thief; review by Jim Glanville in the Roanoke Times.