Posts Tagged: libraries

Redefining the Commons

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A library is rarely ever just a library, often evolving alongside the community it serves. The Lacuna Project is taking this idea literally by building a library made entirely of books for this year’s Bay Area Book Festival. Festival-goers will be able to remove (and keep) books without damaging the structure, whose lighting and acoustics will change in response to their collective impact.

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Keep Warburg Weird

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The future of the Warburg Institute, one of London’s most influential and strangest libraries, is examined at length in this week’s New Yorker. Adam Gopnik covers the history of the center, from its founding in pre-Nazi Germany through the height of its influence on the world of art history, and attempts to articulate the particular properties of Warburg, the philosophy and aesthetics and modes of scholarship, that make it unique.

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James Patterson, Philanthropist

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Bestselling author James Patterson is giving school libraries $1.25 million in grants of $1,000 to $10,000 for books, reading programs, and technology, reports the Washington Post. Patterson has previously pledged $1 million to 175 independent bookstores. His generosity is all part of a broader goal to encourage more reading nationally.

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Harvard Library’s Deep Storage

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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.

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The Library Nightclub

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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.

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Changing Shakespeare

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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.

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Rehabbing Poets’ Broken Records

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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.

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Reading Recs: Man vs. Machine

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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.

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Surveillance in the Stacks

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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.

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From Papyrus to PDF

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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.

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Young Adults Still Go to the Library

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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.

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Books for the Future

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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.

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