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Breathe a Small Sigh of Relief for the Contents of Middle Eastern Libraries

From The New York Times Arts Blog:

LONDON — At a moment when libraries and archives in the Middle East face threats of damage and destruction from war and ideology, the British Library has announced that it has now made four million images from its Endangered Archives program available online.

The initiative, established in 2004 and supported by the Arcadia Fund, has so far financed 246 projects in 78 countries, attempting to preserve manuscripts, records, newspapers, photographs, sound archives and even rock inscriptions that are at risk of loss or deterioration.

“What’s at stake is what beliefs and biases will shape the way history is told,” Holland Cotter wrote in The New York Times in a 2012 article about the Great Mosque in Djenné, Mali, and the Endangered Archives program’s attempt to preserve and digitize the thousands of Arabic manuscripts housed in the mosque and in the city.

Wiki creator reinvents collaboration, again

This new wiki is composed of a server and a client written in CoffeeScript. The server is a minimal persistence engine that's designed for scenarios ranging from laboratory control systems to academic server farms. The pages it stores contain only JSON, rendered by the client, which does most of the work. Two JSON objects comprise a page: the story (a set of items) and the journal (which remembers how items were added, edited, moved, or deleted). You add items to the page by means of plug-ins that inject paragraphs of plain text, HTML, or markdown, as well as images, video, equations, raw data, charts, and computations. 

From Wiki creator reinvents collaboration, again | InfoWorld

Vint Cerf warns of 'digital Dark Age'

Vint Cerf, a "father of the internet", says he is worried that all the images and documents we have been saving on computers will eventually be lost.

Currently a Google vice-president, he believes this could occur as hardware and software become obsolete.

He fears that future generations will have little or no record of the 21st Century as we enter what he describes as a "digital Dark Age".

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-31450389

What's in Your (Town of) Sandwich?

Forget "What's in your wallet?" How about what was in the archives of the municipality of Sandwich that everyone seemed to miss until last December?

Here's the story via the New York Times:

A tattered copy of the Magna Carta has been discovered in the archives of the municipality of Sandwich, a sleepy seaside town in eastern England, according to the local government and a historian at the University of East Anglia.

News of the find comes just as the charter, often regarded as England’s first step towards civil rights, marks its 800th anniversary. Events have been scheduled across the country to mark the occasion, including a recent reunion of the four surviving copies of the original version, issued in 1215, in London this month. Between 1215 and 1300, other copies of the Magna Carta were marked with a royal seal, only two dozen of which are known to exist.

The copy found in Sandwich, in the county of Kent, dates to 1300, when King Edward I issued the final version of the charter marked with such a seal. The original version signed in 1215 was issued by King John, an unpopular ruler under pressure to check his own power in the interest of preventing civil war. The document affirms the king as subject to the law like any other citizen.

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Never trust a corporation to do a library%u2019s job %u2014 The Message %u2014 Medium

In the last five years, starting around 2010, the shifting priorities of Google%u2019s management left these archival projects in limbo, or abandoned entirely.

After a series of redesigns, Google Groups is effectively dead for research purposes. The archives, while still online, have no means of searching by date.

https://medium.com/message/never-trust-a-corporation-to-do-a-librarys-job-f58db4673351?repos...

Washington, D.C. Public Library Creates Punk Rock Archive

Our nation%u2019s lawmakers have to share Washington, D.C. with a diverse group of residents. Among those residents are some of the most influential punk bands in history, and now, the D.C. Public Library decided to recognize this part of the city%u2019s history by creating the D.C. Punk Archive. Check out BBC%u2019s coverage in the video above.

http://diffuser.fm/dc-punk-rock-archive/

What Was Found Inside the Oldest American Time Capsule

To the delight of historians, an x-ray performed last month suggested that the enclosed materials%u2014thought to include paper and coins%u2014were intact.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/what-was-found-inside-oldest-american-time-capsule-...

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Benjamin Franklin, a Sage Man

Benjamin Franklin’s Philadelphia printing shop made plaster molds from pressed sage leaves to create metal stamps for marking foliage patterns on Colonial currency. The distinctive contours of leaf spines, stems and veins were meant to thwart counterfeiters, and Franklin’s workers managed to keep the casting technique a secret that has puzzled modern scholars, too.

James N. Green, the librarian at the Library Company of Philadelphia (founded by Franklin in 1731), had wondered for the last two decades if any of Franklin’s actual metal leaf-printing blocks for the bills survived. He had concluded that if one of these castings ever did emerge, it would be “a really sensational discovery,” he said in an interview last month. And since that time...

...such a discovery has been made in a vault at the Delaware County Institute of Science in Media, PA.

Boston Archivists Demand Patience

A copper box sealed for over 113 years inside the head of a piece of statuary, a lion, at the Old State House in Boston has finally been opened.

Inside... there was a surprise book with a red cover...but we don't know the title or contents. Historians deem the book and other contents of the box too fragile to be quickly examined. They will need to be examined in a temperature and pressure controlled environment.

The society first learned of the possible existence of the time capsule three years ago from the great-great-granddaughter of Samuel Rogers, a craftsman who had worked on renovations to the building and was believed to have placed the box in the lion's head and catalogued its contents. A 1901 article from The Boston Globe surfaced later, alluding to contents of a copper box "which will prove interesting when the box is opened many years hence."

More from ABC News.

Moving Day for Priceless Historical Documents

From the New York Times a fascinating look at how invaluable historical documents and artifacts are secured while in transit.

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