Sunday, August 09, 2015

Links & Reviews

- A portion of Maya Angelou's library was sold at a tag sale in Winston-Salem, NC this weekend. By the time I learned it was happening, one day of the sale had already gone by, but a number of interested folks sprang into high gear to see what we could do by way of salvaging some record of the library before it was dispersed. The estate sale company confirmed that they had made no catalog or inventory of the books prior to sale, but said that Wake Forest University had cataloged the books (offering up a whiff of hope). Staff there, however, confirmed to LibraryThing's Tim Spalding that wasn't the case: they had examined the books, but made no list of the library's contents. It turns out that Oprah Winfrey purchased a large chunk of Dr. Angelou's library en bloc (so at least that portion remains intact), and that some other books may have gone with Angelou's papers to the NYPL's Schomburg Center, but it remains the case that the books sold this weekend were not listed in any way. A real shame indeed; it reminded me of the breakup of Arthur Schlesinger Jr's collection several years ago. With just a few days' notice it would have been possible to at least get a quick catalog pulled together, so that the intellectual content of the library could have been preserved. Now, alas, it's too late. I'm going to be writing something further about this in the near future.

- Harvard University recently acquired Henry David Thoreau's manuscript notes about his trip to New York's Fire Island following the sinking of the ship carrying Margaret Fuller home from Europe in 1850. More from the Harvard Gazette.

- Simon Beattie has an instructive post up about binding variants. Take note, booksellers, librarians, collectors, all!

- The AP reported recently on efforts to digitize portions of the Baghdad National Library collections because of the threat of ISIS attack.

- From Ben Sisaro in the NYTimes, a report on the ongoing copyright tussle over "Happy Birthday," and how the fight could soon be over.

- Jonathan Jones writes about the delights of the Digital Bodleian collection.

- After 93 years of operation, the bindery at the University of Minnesota's library has been closed, due to decreased demand. According to this report, UC Berkeley is now the only university in the U.S. with its own bindery.

- And if you think copyright law in the U.S. is insane, don't miss Peter Martin's column in Australia's The Age, which concerns the indefinite copyright protection under Australian law for any unpublished work.

- Zoe Abrams has posted a summary of her experiences at this summer's CABS.

- The excellent mini-documentary "Farewell ETAION SHRDLU" is currently available via Vimeo, and has digitized a number of other print-related productions.

- From Ted Underwood, "A dataset for distant-reading literature in English, 1700–1922."

- From Mark Blacklock at the Guardian, his top ten literary hoaxes.

- John Schulman posted some advice to those looking to buy rare books as gifts.

- Via Sarah Werner, a useful object lesson in the use of decontextualized images online: "Getting the Words Out (and Back In): What to do When a Plague Images is Not an Image of the Plague."

- As I'm sure I've mentioned before, the Wisconsin Public Radio show "To the Best of our Knowledge" is one of my favorite podcasts. Their episode "The Art of Reading" is very much worth a listen, particularly the segments with Maryanne Wolfe on the reading brain and Anthony Grafton on marginalia.

- Rebecca Rego Barry interviewed George Braziller for the Guardian.

- The Letterform Archive is hiring a librarian.

- Princeton's Cotsen Children's Library is profiled in the Princeton Packet.

- The University of Maryland's College of Information Studies has released a report on "Re-Envisioning the MLS: Findings, Issues, and Considerations." I haven't had a chance to read this document thoroughly, but I hope to offer more thoughts once I've been able to do so.

- Caroline Duroselle-Melish provides the answer to this month's Crocodile mystery at The Collation, and offers a deep dive into the use(s) of pins in books.

- Not books, but still of interest: newly-seen video footage from the night before the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist in 1990 shows the same guard who was on duty during the thefts letting an unidentified man into the museum.


- Greg Steinmetz's The Richest Man Who Ever Lived; review by Carlos Lozada in the WaPo.

- Michael Dirda's Browsings; review by Michael Lindgren in the WaPo.

- Shaun Usher's Lists of Note; review by Michael Lindgren in the WaPo.

- Jonathan M. Bryant's Dark Places of the Earth; review by David Reynolds in the WSJ.

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