A new interactive documentary called Cold Storage invites viewers to peer beyond Harvard’s flagship Widener Library—the tip of the iceberg in terms of the university’s massive collection—and into the vault where more than 9 million books and artifacts are stored. Gizmodo reports on the viewing experience, describing a world designed for the convenience of the machines in charge of storing and retrieving items, and oddly removed from the typical culture of reverence for books as a category of uniquely valuable objects....more
Posts Tagged: libraries
Camden County, New Jersey could become the newest location for a tool library. These libraries aren’t filled with books—instead, their contents include hand tools, like The West Philly Tool Library, a non-profit organization with more than 3,000 tools for loan. There are about 20 tool libraries around the US and a few more in Canada....more
An online joke at Rutgers University became a reality when library officials converted the main library into a nightclub. During the semester, students studying at Alexander Library joked they were at Club Alex. Library officials decided to make those jokes a reality by converting the space into a temporary nightclub for seniors, including House music and bartenders....more
Following the grand jury verdict in Ferguson, protests shut down local civic institutions like schools. However, the local public library continued to serve as a beacon of hope, providing area residents with access to books, Internet, and entertainment. Last week, YA author John Green sent the library signed copies of his books....more
A French public library has discovered that the institution possesses a rare ‘first folio’ of the works of William Shakespeare. There are many first folios, but these earliest anthologies all contain variations in the texts. (The writing we have come to know as the definitive works have actually been pieced together by scholars who’ve researched and compared the various versions of first folios.) For example, the newly discovered folio has changes in Henry IV:
In one scene in “Henry IV,” the word “hostess” is changed to “host” and “wench” to “fellow” — possibly reflecting an early performance where a female character was turned into a male.
New audio preservation technology just opened a treasure trove at Harvard: thousands of recordings of influential poets reading their work, once feared too deteriorated to salvage, are now being recovered. As WBUR reports, the IRENE program takes high-res 3D photographs of old records deemed too fragile to play with an ordinary needle, which can then be digitally converted into audio without the risk of damaging the original vinyl....more
You’re assuming that first of all you’ll finish the book, which is a big assumption, and then that somebody will publish it — even more optimistic — that somebody will read it — better still — and that they will like it — the very best thing of all — so it’s all based on optimism, isn’t it.
At Co.EXIST, Jessica Leber pits the algorithms of digital giants Amazon and Goodreads against the ultimate recommendation engine: librarians. Leber details her experience with the Brooklyn Public Library’s BookMatch program, in which real librarians respond to patron’s requests for reading recommendations based on other books they’ve enjoyed....more
Librarians have hard-won reputations as defenders of open information and patron privacy, but what about third-party providers of library services? Slate’s Future Tense explores some recent revelations from companies like Adobe, whose Digital Editions e-book software has been criticized for transmitting reader data in plain text—making it an easy target for surveillance by the government, and other private companies....more
Mike Kelley delivers a useful overview of the outlook for preservation of e-books for Publishers Weekly. In addition to the upkeep necessary to combat digital decay, which is at least analogous to the challenges of paper-book preservation, libraries are now confronting the particular difficulties of texts in proprietary file formats, with limited licenses, and without common identifiers like an ISBN....more
In the first step of what will undoubtedly be the robot uprising, two robots will be joining the staff of the Westport, Connecticut library. The robots will primarily assist in teaching coding, but they’re also programmed to recognize faces, practice tai chi, and kick soccer balls....more
The Pew Research Center recently released a report about younger Americans’s (ages 16-29) attitudes toward libraries. As it turns out, young adults still read books, they still visit libraries—at least as much as older Americans—and many use library services. There are some key differences between younger and older generations when it comes to libraries—younger patrons, for example, are less likely to say a library closure would significantly impact them—but the findings still suggest libraries play important roles in communities....more
Portland is home to Street Books, a bicycle-based library that serves the city’s homeless population and day laborers. The project started in 2011 with a temporary grant, but has since flourished into a full-time non-profit. The Oregonian takes a look at the people operating and relying on this unique library system....more
Margaret Atwood’s next book won’t be published for a hundred years. The Future Library project is collecting a hundred manuscripts to be released in the year 2114 with Atwood’s manuscript the first to be added to the collection. Earlier this year, 1,000 trees were planted that will eventually be harvested to publish the books collected by the project....more
NPR reports that floating library pop-up is coming to New York City in the Hudson River. The Floating Library is the work of artist Beatrice Glow and will feature books and chapbooks of underrepresented authors and poets as well as an outdoor reading room. The project will run from Saturday, September 6th through October 3rd and will be housed on an old steamship....more
Librarian Justin Wadland attempts to answer the question “What is the future of libraries?” at the Los Angeles Review of Books by reading three recent books about them. He suggests the future of libraries depends on our relationship with them. He also explains that the question is in no way simple:
Flooded with data as we are, each day brings even more innovations and technologies to help us mine, sort, and generate even more information.
Florida Polytechnic University has just opened, in a building designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, a completely bookless library. Available to all the students is a catalog of 135,000 e-books that can be consulted in an impressive, completely empty room equipped with internet connections and librarians to help the students....more
Libraries have adapted to the modern era by lending out e-books. In many cases, electronic books provide patrons easier access to materials. But a new study says that they also threaten an old system of distribution, reports GalleyCat. The main problem is how electronic content is never really owned, but instead, licensed:
Unlike the print book business model, in which libraries buy a certain amount of books for a set price and distribute those texts widely, most digital content is licensed with specific conditions about when and where it can be distributed.