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A century from now our handwriting may be legible only to experts. The author of a book on the history of handwriting says that handwriting is declining so fast that ordinary, joined-up script may become as hard to read as a medieval manuscript. “When your great-great-grandchildren find that letter of yours in the attic, they’ll have to take it to a specialist, an old guy at the library who would decipher the strange symbols for them,” she says.
The article closes with this comment. “Our descendants may struggle to read our letters, but they’ll never even see most of our texts and e-mails.”
WHEN the world entered the digital age, a great majority of human historical records did not immediately make the trip.
Literature, film, scientific journals, newspapers, court records, corporate documents and other material, accumulated over centuries, needed to be adapted for computer databases. Once there, it had to be arranged — along with newer, born-digital material — in a way that would let people find what they needed and keep finding it well into the future.
The people entrusted to find a place for this wealth of information are known as digital asset managers, or sometimes as digital archivists and digital preservation officers. Whatever they are called, demand for them is expanding.
From the GC to the CIO down to the storage administrator, there has been no lack of discussion on new rules for managing data and electronic documents. Everything from regulatory compliance such as Sarbanes-Oxley to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure has made IT aware that they need to be ready to archive more data longer. Yet the most common refrain heard is: "I know I need to do something, just someone tell me what I specifically have to do." How do you cut through the fog, and develop specific technical requirements for saving, managing and deleting data in an archival system? Despite confusion, archiving of data can actually be broken down into fundamental requirements.
While Stephen deals with the stress of moving, he asked that I fill in for him for a special episode of LISTen - The LISNews Podcast. As my alter-ego, The Faceless Historian, I'll take you on a journey through history back to the distant past and the origins of the DRM and copying controversies we deal with today.
Stephen and the regular LISTen gang will be back next week with your regularly scheduled podcast. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy something a little different about something related to issues we face in libraries today.
If you're in the mood for more of my historical meanderings, you can catch my podcast (Hyperlinked History) on iTunes or via the Hyperlinked History website.27:45 minutes (8 MB)
The director of the S.C. Department of Archives and History is cutting his own job to two days a week to help his agency deal with the latest round of budget cuts.
Rodger Stroup, 62, had planned to retire as director of the agency in February after working 30 years in state government, but the agency board of directors asked him to stay on through June while it searches for his replacement. Stroup agreed.
Then as the agency staff worked to trim the budget yet again in December, Stroup opted to cut his own work schedule to save somebody else’s job.
“This effort of his as he retires is just one more thing he’s doing to ensure the agency survives and can continue doing its job,” said A.V. Huff, chairman of the archives board.
Stroup’s annual salary, according to the S.C. Budget and Control Board database, is $80,516.
The chief executive of the British Library is worried.
He fears that digital records — from the photographs on our personal computers to the records of political parties and businesses — are vanishing, that “historians and citizens of the future will find a black hole in the knowledge base of the 21st century.”
What is the answer? “People often assume that commercial organisations such as Google are collecting and archiving this kind of material — they are not. The task of capturing our online intellectual heritage and preserving it for the long term falls, quite rightly, to the same libraries and archives that have over centuries systematically collected books, periodicals, newspapers and recordings and which remain available in perpetuity, thanks to these institutions.”
A copy of the Magna Carta is the centerpiece of a new exhibition at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley.
USA Today reports on the exhibition that runs til June 20 and will include scenes from life in England in 1215, the year the Magna Carta was recorded.
According to the cathedral's website, the bishops of Lincoln were among the magnates of medieval England and when the Magna Carta was drawn up in 1215, one of the witnesses was Hugh of Wells, Bishop of Lincoln, who returned with his copy to the city. Today Lincoln's copy of the document is only one of four originals from 1215 that still exist.
John Mark Ockerbloom explains how that for a viable institutional repository, you need quite a bit more than just “a place to put stuff”: you need a suite of services that support its purposes. In Part 2, he enumerates some of the specific services that we need or find useful in our institutional scholarship repository.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A collection of letters and sketches penned by a Civil War soldier has been acquired by Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.
The correspondence was purchased from the Union soldier's family for $25,000.
Born in Scotland in 1823, William Wyllie became a corporal with the 58th Illinois Infantry after enlisting from St. Charles.
Library officials say his letters are extremely detailed. (Wyllie) was very literate and made very astute observations.” “He explains things,” said Glenna Schroeder-Lein, with the library’s manuscripts department. “What being on guard duty is, how long the shifts are, how things were cooked.”
Wyllie, a stonemason with a fourth-grade education, was born in Scotland in 1823. He enlisted from St. Charles when he was about 40 years old. His entries reveal a devoutly religious man. He comments on sermons and was scornful of officers who drank and gambled. The letters include accounts of a whiskey riot and the Red River Campaign of 1864. He was guard at a Confederate prison.
He almost always was writing, sometimes stopping abruptly and, after a day or two, picking up where he left off. But he also spent his free time during the war knitting gloves and socks he sent back to his three children, one of whom, a young daughter named Lillie, died while he was away. -- Read More
Ebony and Jet Magazines have joined the 21st Century (and Google), and have gone digital.
According to the Chicago Tribune, prior to this deal, the magazine's have kept their past issues in bound volumes and on microfilm, so if anyone needed to look up an old article, librarians would have to search through the company's archives.
However, with a new deal in place, both Ebony and Jet will be made searchable on the technology giant's growing database of publications. Johnson Publishing's partnership with Google gives readers access to more than nine magazine titles and 20 million photographs documenting 63 years, reports the paper.
But, issues prior to 1960, they're having a problem with because of the issues' fragility or limited availability. So, the company is asking for help from their readers and librarians? "to pull stuff from the basement" to aid with the archiving.