Can the British Library be trusted? I suppose the answer is 'sometimes'...
The New York Times reports via the BBC that "The British Library has admitted that a historic diary was damaged while in its care, but refused to confirm reports that the manuscript, which recorded preparations for the Jacobite rebellion of 1715, had been left in the trunk of a car."
The diary, written by Thomas Tyldesley had been entrusted to the library in 1994 by its owner, descendant Peter J. Tyldesley, who said he believed it would be safer there than in his home.
There's a first-edition Ken Follett thriller lying on Michael Sharpe's library table. First editions are what Sharpe collects. This particular potboiler, however, is surrounded by what experts call one of the most extraordinary private collections of rare books in the world.
In just 20 years, Sharpe has amassed works of science, philosophy, medicine, exploration, religion, literature and mathematics, all classified as being in superb condition and worth about $25 million.
Together, they record the growth of Western civilization through everything from a Dead Sea Scroll fragment to "Gone With the Wind."
Ever wonder what happened to Donna Shalala? She served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton for all eight years of his administration.
Since 2001, she's been the fifth President of the University of Miami, and she's exceedingly proud of the libraries on her campus. "The most important buildings on our campuses are our libraries," said Shalala. She explained that libraries can be an effective recruiting tool, which is one reason UM will continue "upgrading and expanding our collection."
The three millionth book, Dialogues et Chants Royaux, a previously lost 16th century manuscript, has just been added to the U of M library, with the fanfare described here.
madcow writes ""For seventy years, a prayer book moldered in the closet of a family in France, passed down from one generation to the next. Its mildewed parchment pages were stiff and contorted, tarnished by burn marks and waxy smudges. Behind the text of the prayers, faint Greek letters marched in lines up the page, with an occasional diagram disappearing into the spine...
For this was not just a prayer book. The faint Greek inscriptions and accompanying diagrams were, in fact, the only surviving copies of several works by the great Greek mathematician Archimedes...An intensive research effort over the last nine years has led to the decoding of much of the almost-obliterated Greek text. The results were more revolutionary than anyone had expected. The researchers have discovered that Archimedes was working out principles that, centuries later, would form the heart of calculus and that he had a more sophisticated understanding of the concept of infinity than anyone had realized. Fascinating story here.""
Old and rare books normally are locked tight in the recesses of archives and libraries, touched only by a few and then only with white gloves.
So imagine the scene Wednesday at Denison University's library when 60 students, faculty and others not only saw up close, but also handled treasured documents and rare editions of books, one dating back 500 years.
(ed-For variety's sake, I tried to find a story--key word: book--on something other than Harry Potter. But this is the one that turned up, and I have to report it...)
A team of archivists and preservationists is hard at work in Washington DC with librarians and museum personnel from around the country. Thanks to a grant from the non-profit Heritage Foundation and the IMLS, they are learning the how-to's of preserving fragile, time and temperature-worn documents.
A recent survey, following the destruction evidenced by Hurricane Katrina, showed the following:
*More than half of the country's 30,000 libraries, museums and archives have had articles that were damaged by moisture
*26 percent of collecting institutions have no environmental controls, including 40 percent of libraries.
*80 percent of collections have no disaster plan
On BookTV, Sunday, June 24, at 7:00 PM, (Eastern time) there is a program about the Frank Streeter Library Sale.
A WWII navy veteran of the Pacific theater, Frank Streeter developed an interest in and collected early navigation, pacific voyages, cartography, and science rare books. The 88 year-old Mr. Streeter decided to sell his library at Christies in New York, but died prior to the auction. In this program we take a close look at several of the rarest and most valuable books and learn about Mr. Streeter and how a rare book auction is conducted. The 552 items from the library sold for a total of 16.5 million dollars. Featured in the program is "The Atlantic Neptune", a large four volume sea atlas of the British colonies commissioned in 1760 and 16 years in production; it was the first detailed chart of the coastal areas of North America.
Link to program info at BookTV
The Belfast Telegraph reports that the British Library recently unveiled Turning the Pages 2.0 - a 3D system that allows people to explore digitized versions of books and manuscripts. A competition is being held among public libraries throughout the United Kingdom to find items in their collections that most deserve to be converted into 'virtual texts' and posted for the public to view on the British Library's website.