Tuesday, October 26, 2010

“A Remarkable Footnote”

A film of Market Street, San Francisco, one week before the 1906 earthquake:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Research Futures

The Chronicle reports on the Association of Research Libraries 2030 scenarios. The scenarios imagine four different future research environments driven by (1) “research entrepreneurs,” (2) recycling of “ubiquitous but low-value” information, (3) big data and disciplines, and (4) the Middle East and Asia. In all of these scenarios, the user’s guide points out, libraries have the opportunity to participate fully in the research lifecycle, “to create, describe, curate, control access, and authenticate information” (38).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On the Critical Use of Archives and Records

From an interview with the editors of Contesting Archives: Finding Women in the Sources (Inside Higher Ed):
[Mary Elizabeth] Perry: When we “contest archives,” we question them, look for more, ask why they are presenting some information but not other kinds of information. …

“Reading against the grain” quite simply means that we read historical records critically, looking especially at the power context in which it was written and the power motivations of those who wrote the document. We contextualize documents as we read them so that we can probe more to learn what the document is not saying and why.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Books, New and Old

A publisher, defending a claim to have published the world’s biggest book, asks:
“When is a book a book? If there is only one copy produced is it a ‘book’? ... Anyone can grab two huge planks of wood, hinge them together and paste in some paper and call it a book.” Gross wrote, noting that there will be 31 copies of “EARTH, platinum edition.”
Earth, Platinum Edition debuted at the Frankfurt Book Fair last week. I was at the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair last weekend and found some interesting smaller and medium-rare (19th century) books on Egyptology, ethnography, and enology.

For something completely different, see: “Confessions of a Used-Book Salesman” (Slate).

As for the fate of books yet unwritten, see: “Will technology kill book publishing? Not even close” (USA Today).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Archive This

The Chronicle reports on the Sustaining Digital History project, “which is trying to make it easier for history scholars to publish digitally in well-established forums”:
Much of the digital work that scholars do now is outside of the traditional academic-publishing realm—published in blogs or on Wikipedia. About 20 percent of scholars in the survey said they had published some kind of work in a native digital form.
One hopes that long-term access (i.e., preservation) is included in this discussion about dissemination.

The Chronicle also reports on a conference on the future of social-media archiving. So far, not much has been revealed through the social media connected with the event itself.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Call for a National Digital Library

From Robert Darnton’s “A Library Without Walls” (The New York Review of Books):
Behind the creation of the American republic was another republic, which made the Constitution thinkable. This was the Republic of Letters—an information system powered by the pen and the printing press, a realm of knowledge open to anyone who could read and write, a community of writers and readers without boundaries, police, or inequality of any kind, except that of talent. Like other men of the Enlightenment, the Founding Fathers believed that free access to knowledge was a crucial condition for a flourishing republic, and that the American republic would flourish if its citizens exercised their citizenship in the Republic of Letters. … I believe that a strong dose of utopian idealism gave their thought its driving force. I think we should tap that force today, because what seemed utopian in the eighteenth century has now become possible. We can close the gap between the high ground of principle and the hardscrabble of everyday life. We can do so by creating a National Digital Library.