Sunday, March 11, 2007

Links &c.

- Joyce passed along this story from today's New York Times, which suggests "As more museums and archives become digital domains, and as electronic resources become the main tool for gathering information, items left behind in nondigital form, scholars and archivists say, are in danger of disappearing from the collective cultural memory, potentially leaving our historical fabric riddled with holes."

James Hastings, director of access services at the National Archives, told the Times "If researchers conclude that the only valuable records they need are those that are online they will be missing major parts of the story. And in some cases they will miss the story altogether." And researchers who think like that are shoddy researchers indeed.

It is not, in my view, the responsibility of archives and museums to make their collections digital (though if they can, more power to them); rather, the institutions should focus on making records of their holdings available (as they are indeed doing) so that researchers can find out what's where and use it as they need to/are able to. Mounting online public access catalogs will spur reference questions and non-local visits (I can personally vouch for that), without incurring the high costs of large-scale digitization efforts.

It's an interesting article on digitization efforts, but the 'historical fabric' will only be 'riddled with holes' if we succumb to the ridiculous idea that only digitized materials matter.

- The New Yorker's "Shouts and Murmurs" column this week takes on the controversy over the inclusion of the word 'scrotum' in this year's Newbery-award-winning children's book. Slightly raunchy, but quite hilarious.

- Off the Shelf (and many others) have posted on the ongoing poll (at the lower right) to determine "The Oddest Book Title of the Year." The nominees this time:
Tattooed Mountain Women and Spoon Boxes of Daghestan
How Green Were the Nazis?;
D. Di Mascio's Delicious Ice Cream: D. Di Mascio of Coventry: An Ice Cream Company of Repute, with an Interesting and Varied Fleet of Ice Cream Vans;
The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification; Proceedings of the Eighteenth International Seaweed Symposium;
Better Never To Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence.

My vote went to the shopping carts, although the spoon boxes were a close second. BBC also has a story up about this, eh, contest (via Shelf:Life)

- Over at Upward Departure, Travis has several posts worth reading: in one, he very nicely comments on the work that this blog and others do in exposing and publicizing thefts of books and maps. He's also got a pair of entries (here and here) on Constantin von Tischendorf's discovery (and theft) of an ancient Old Testament manuscript (the Codex Sinaiticus) at St. Catherine's monastery near Mt. Sinai.

- Paul Collins has posts about a writer's fellowship where you can live - for free - in Jack Kerouac's Florida home (apply here), and about the 1861 game "The Checkered Game of Life" by Milton Bradley.

- Ed at Bibliothecary posted a very interesting omnigatherum on William Blake, which is worth checking out.

- If you haven't yet made the AbeBooks blog Reading Copy part of your regular blog-reading schedule, I encourage you to do so. Their posts are always timely and of interest.

- Bytown Bookshop has one of the best "borrower beware" notes I've ever seen.

- Michael Lieberman comments on what appears to be a rather suspicious book-marketing scheme thought up by business 'guru' Richard Paul Evans.

- BibliOdyssey, feeing my endless appetite for natural history illustrations, has a beautiful selection of John Gould's hummingbirds.