Sunday, August 30, 2015

Links & Reviews

- The Times (UK, subscription required) reported this week that newly-released phone taps "have exposed how Marcello Dell'Utri, a senator and old friend of Berlusconi, received books from Marino Massimo De Caro. ... In one phone conversation with De Caro in 2012, Dell'Utri says one book he wants is so valuable, it will come with 'truffles on it'." Dell'Utri was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2014 for ties to the Sicilian mafia; he has maintained that he did not know the books he was receiving from De Caro were stolen. The texts of the phone taps were originally reported in La repubblica.

- The British Library has turned down an archive of material related to the Taliban, with librarians saying that housing the collection could violate anti-terrorism statutes, which prohibit the collection "of material which could be used by a person committing or preparing for an act of terrorism" as well as the "circulation of terrorist publications."

- This year's National Book Festival commemorates the 200th anniversary of the sale of Jefferson's books to the nation to rebuild the destroyed Library of Congress. In the Washington Post, Mark Dimunation presents a few of Jefferson's favorite titles.

- As part of the processing of Toni Morrison's literary archive, staff at Princeton have been working to recover files from 5.25" floppy disks. Elena Colon-Marrero outlines the process used.

- From Damian Fleming, a list of free digitized manuscripts containing Old English.

- Kazuo Ishiguro's literary archive has been acquired by the Harry Ransom Center for just over $1 million.

- At The Collation, Erin Blake shows how Hamnet is one big data set, and offers some advice on parsing exported MARC data.

- Rare Book School is now accepting applications for scholarships and the IMLS-RBS Fellowships.

- Michael Beckerman reports for the NYTimes about the discovery of missing parts of Adam Michna's 1653 musical work "The Czech Lute," found in a Franciscan library in Slany, near Prague.

- Alison Flood reports for the Guardian on the sale of two James Joyce letters, which fetched more than $24,000 at RR Auction in Boston.

- At Early Modern Online Bibliography, Eleanor Shevlin discusses and reviews ArchBook, an open-access collection of essays "about specific design features in the history of the book."

- Jessamyn West has posted about her discussions with the White House personnel office about what the next Librarian of Congress should be able to bring to the table.

- Tim Cassedy writes in the LA Review of Books about the new app OMBY, "a game that you win by unscrambling Moby Dick, a few words at a time."

- The Library of Congress and Levenger Press are publishing Mapping the West with Lewis and Clark, examining "the critical role that maps played in Jefferson's vision of a formidable republic that would no longer be eclipsed by European empires."

- Items from the Kerry Stokes Collection, including the Rothschild Prayerbook, will be on display at the University of Melbourne's Ian Potter Museum until 15 November. A lecture series accompanies the exhibition.

- In Humanities, Steve Moyer reports on the use of spectral imaging and reflectance transformation imaging on the Jubliees palimpsest.

- and Gannett Newspapers are collaborating to digitize the full archives of some 80 daily newspapers.

- Elizabeth Ott highlights an utterly fantastic new acquisition at UNC Chapel Hill: an 18th-century perspective "peep show" of a printer's shop at work.

- The British Library will loan the Codex Sinaiticus to the British Museum for an exhibition exploring religion in Egypt after the pharaohs.

- In the Deccan Herald, Pradeep Sebastian explores the fascination with biblio-theft, highlighting a few recent cases.

- Michelle Tay writes for Blouin Artinfo about Sotheby's auction of selections from Pierre Bergé's collection of rare books, which will begin with a sale in December.

- A long-sought Nazi "gold train" may have been located in southwestern Poland after a death-bed confession. The armored train is believed to have been carrying weapons, gold, art, and possibly Nazi archives. Authorities are urging treasure-hunters to stay away, as they fear that the hidden train may be booby-trapped.

- Satellite images reveal the extent of the destruction being wrought on the ancient city of Palmyra by ISIS.


- The Butterflies of North America: Titian Peale's Lost Manuscript; review by Dana Jennings in the NYTimes. The manuscript, left unfinished when Peale died in 1885, is being published by the American Museum of Natural History.

- Rosemarie Ostler's Founding Grammars; review by Barbara Spindel in the CSM.

- Paul Kingsnorth's The Wake; review by Jennifer Maloney in the WSJ. This one sounds fascinating ...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Links & Reviews

- It was "Cheat Week" at Atlas Obscura, with nearly forty articles on all manner of hoaxes, scams, frauds, &c. They included Damaris Colhoun on fake diaries and Cara Giaimo on "Beringer's Lying Stones."

- David Gary, writing for The Atlantic, explains Yale's decision to purchase nearly 3,000 VHS tapes of 1970s and 1980s horror movies.

- The winners of the 2015 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest were announced this week.

- Many congratulations to Molly Hardy on being appointed the Digital Humanities Curator at AAS. In a blog post, Molly reflects on "how we at AAS understand the relationship between digital humanities and special collections libraries."

- Mary Fissell writes about the long-lasting appeal of Aristotle's Masterpiece at Public Domain Review.

- Nancy Maron, writing in EDUCAUSE Review, asks "The Digital Humanities Are Alive and Well and Blooming: Now What?"

- From the Seattle Times, a profile of scholar Devin Naar, who has accumulated one of the largest collections of books in Ladino and is planning a digital library of same.

- Glyn Farrow, Chief Executive of the St Bride Foundation, has posted an update on "recent developments," maintaining that no collections will be sold or given away, but that the library and other facilities could be reopened if the foundation's financial situation improves.

- Former Getty curator Marion True has broken her silence, talking to Geoff Edgers of the Washington Post. She's also reportedly drafted a memoir (which may or may not see print).

- There's a report in today's Guardian that MI5 monitored the activities of author Doris Lessing for more than two decades, according to previously secret files released on Friday.

- Coming up in September at Amherst College, a symposium on "Books and Print between Cultures, 1500-1900."

- From Sarah Hovde at The Collation, a look at how catalogers at the Folger (and rare book catalogers generally) use genre and form terms to facilitate searching, discoverability, &c.

- Sarah Werner has revised and updated her very useful list of digitized First Folios.

- Laurence Worms of Ash Rare Books has announced that his "Cataloguing for Booksellers" is about to be published.

- The University of Akron has walked back its plan to lay off two employees of its university press, saying that the two will "help ensure operations" continue as the press is folded into the university library.

- A planned Bloomsbury Auctions sale of several personal items belonging to actor Daniel Day-Lewis has been called off after Day-Lewis intervened.

- The University of Wisconsin-Superior has received a $50,000 grant to catalog and preserve a collection of technical drawings, negatives, and other documents from the shipbuilding firm Fraser Shipyards, Inc.

- There's a new post on the Trinity College Library blog highlighting a short PowerPoint "exhibition" about the value of exploring personal libraries (in this case, Isaac Newton's).

- In the New York Times Magazine, Steven Johnson explores "The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn't."


- Matthew Battles' Palimpsest; review by David Shields in the NYTimes.

- John Palfrey's Bibliotech, Ann Morgan's The World Between Two Covers, Tim Parks' Where I'm Reading From, Michael Dirda's Browsings, and James Wood's The Nearest Thing to Life; short reviews by Timothy Aubry in the NYTimes.

- Lisa Jardine's Temptation in the Archives; review by Henriette Louwerse in THE.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Links & Reviews

- The Ligatus Language of Bindings thesaurus launched this week.

- New (to me, anyway), Primeros Libros, a digital collection of early Mexican imprints.

- Historian Jane Kamensky has been appointed Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library at Harvard.

- Padraig Belton and Matthew Wall, writing for the BBC, ask "Did technology kill the book or give it new life?"

- From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department: Burger King briefly challenged Trinity College Dublin's attempt to trademark the phrase "BK merchandise" (part of a new effort to market the Book of Kells, a fairly sad state of efforts in and of itself).

- Ken Gloss of the Brattle Book Shop talked to the Writer's Bone podcast.

- Books from the Bristol Central Library will be sold off so that the basement floor of the building can be converted to a primary school. More than 250,000 books are being relocated, some to remote storage and others to be sold.

- The George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida have received a $100,000 supplemental grant from the NEH to support additional digitization as part of the Florida and Puerto Rico Newspaper Project.

- At Books Tell You Why, Audrey Golden interviews Jared Lowenstein about the Borges Collection at UVA.

- New York Review Books is profiled in the NYTimes by Larry Rohter.

- Susan Morris covers the process a book takes when it's added to the collections of the Library of Congress.

- In the WSJ, Lee Siegel comments on the "end of the ambitious summer reading list."

- Martin Hasted's "Cataloguing Bewick's Letters" post for the Wordsworth Trust is well worth a read.

- Rich Rennicks writes about Armed Services Editions for The New Antiquarian, drawing on Molly Guptill Manning's new book When Books Went to War.

- Article seems rather simplistic, but I pass it along for your reference: Peggy McGlone writes about the Library of Congress' James Madison Council in the WaPo.


- Jeffrey Schnapp and Matthew Battles' The Library Beyond the Book; review by Anna Battigelli at Early Modern Online Bibliography.

- Adam Johson's Fortune Smiles; review by Lauren Groff in the NYTimes.

- Dario Fo's The Pope's Daughter; reviews by Ingrid Rowland in the NYTimes and Jenny Hendrix in the WaPo.

- The Penguin Book of Witches, edited by Katherine Howe; review by Diane Purkiss in the TLS.

- Matthew Battles' Palimpsest; review by W. Ralph Eubanks in the WSJ.

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.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Links & Reviews

- Library History Seminar XIII is being held in Boston this weekend. See the #LHSXIII hashtag for discussions on Twitter of what seems to have been an excellent conference. Among the projects highlighted is the great work at the UVA Law School to reconstruct the first legal library at UVA.

- The St Bride Foundation has announced a restructuring of its library and printing workshop, laying off two full-time staff members. Future access to both "will have to be pre-booked and [will] be dependent on staffing availability." The Association of European Printing Museums put out a statement calling saying that "these announcements can only add to the anxiety felt by the many scholars, typographers and designers worldwide for whom St Bride's is one of the foremost international resources in the field."

- I missed this in late June: Mary Wellesley's Lapham's Quarterly piece on how Belle da Costa Greene discovered the existence of the Spanish Forger is well worth a read.

- Mark Boonshoft posted the first in a series of NYPL blog posts drawing on Thomas Jefferson's manuscript account book: this one focuses on mentions of the Hemings family.

- Filmmakers fighting copyright claims to "Happy Birthday" have found what they're calling a "smoking gun," a 1927 version of the lyrics without a copyright notice.

- The August "crocodile" mystery is up at The Collation.

- The Centre for Bibliographical History at the University of Essex has launched Lost Manuscripts, a union catalogue of manuscript fragments in Britain.

- Sarah Werner has posted her RBS lecture from this week, "How to Destroy Special Collections with Social Media in 3 Easy Steps."

- The state of Georgia has sued "rogue archivist" Carl Malamud for posting the annotated state legal code online, claiming that the annotations are under copyright.

- Courthouse News Service reports that CNN talk show host Michael Smerconish has filed a legal complaint against Arader Galleries, reportedly concerning the sale of a signed Winston Churchill photograph. More here.

- Jessamyn West has posted a fascinating piece on selecting the next Librarian of Congress. Siva Vaidhyanathan, writing in Slate, calls on the president to choose a "visionary leader" for the post.

- Kurt Zimmerman of American Book Collecting has posted the video of his talk at the Texas State Historical Association meeting in March, looking back at twenty-five years of book collecting.

- Over at the University of Glasgow Library's blog, Robert MacLean writes about the provenance of the university's copies of Vesalius.

- The NEH announced the first recipients of its new Public Scholar grants this week: they include Nicholas Basbanes for his biography of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

- The British Library will digitize more than 2,000 Hebrew manuscripts from its collections and make them freely available online through a partnership with the National Library of Israel. See the full joint announcement.

- The August Rare Book Monthly is out: articles include a notice from Bruce McKinney that he is planning to sell his collection of booksellers' catalogues en bloc at auction (some 23,000 examples).

- The Man Booker Prize longlist for 2015 was announced this week.


- A new collection of work by Shirley Jackson, Let Me Tell You; reviews by Paul Theroux and Dwight Garner in the NYTimes; Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Natasha Pulley's The Watchmaker of Filigree Street; review by Helen Wecker in the NYTimes.

- Greg Steinmetz's The Richest Man Who Ever Lived; review by Jerry Z. Muller in the NYTimes.

- Rosemarie Ostler's Founding Grammars; review by Sarah Kaplan in the WaPo.

- Michael Bundock's The Fortunes of Francis Barber; review by Kathryn Sutherland in the TLS.

- Matthew Battles' Palimpsest; review by Nick Romeo in the CSM.