U of Illinois Library Reverses Course on Obama Documents

Chicago Tribune reports: Documents related to U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's service for a nonprofit education project started by former 1960s radical Bill Ayers were released last Friday from an archive at the University of Illinois at Chicago library. They had previously refused to release records of the project. Will the archive be fodder for the Swift Boat-types?

National Review's "Investigation" of Documents Housed in the Richard J. Daley Library

Libraries are large and complex organizations. The communications made to Stanley Kurtz, National Review (NRO) contributing editor by staff of the University of Illinois – Chicago (UI-Chicago) about the availability of the requested collection, especially comments by a part-time graduate student, are not prima facie evidence of a coverup or conspiracy. Rather, the allegations provide evidence on the state of one specialized collection in a large library with millions of individual items that is not intimately known in its entirety at the initial points of public contact.

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Canadian librarian Ian Wilson elected President of International Council on Archives

The Malaysian National News Agency reported from Kuala Lumpur that Ian Wison has been elected President of the International Council on Archives. Wilson, who reportedly has spent thirty years connected with Canadian library and archive communities, will serve a two year term.

Broken Book Brought Together after 1,600 Years

The Times has an interesting story of the Sinai Codex, a copy of the Bible written 1,600 years ago. The Bible has been in fragments, with some owned by the British, some fragments by the Germans, some by the Russians and some by the Monestary of St. Catherine in Sinai. After much work, you can now read part of the Codex Sinaiticus online.


Information Management Panel: Lessons learned from recent disasters

Listen to the Information Management Panel for lessons learned from recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Find out why COOP plans must to factor in vital and essential records when identifying the elements of a complete risk analysis. Gain perspectives from Federal and State Government experts.


Saddam Hussein’s papers, along with controversy, find a temporary home with the Hoover Institution

After five years of storage in a Baghdad home and a U.S. government facility, millions of records from Saddam Hussein's regime may soon be available for review at the Hoover Institution at Stanford.

The Iraq Memory Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based group that collected about 7 million documents from Hussein's Baath Party headquarters just after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, is entrusting the records to Hoover, which has agreed to hold the documents for five years and then help arrange their return to Iraq.

Parts of the collection—which promise insight into how Hussein ran his dictatorship—may be open by the end of the summer, said Richard Sousa, Hoover's senior associate director.


National archives in Ottawa to reopen after flood

Is there anything that strikes fear into the hearts of archivists than Exploding Pipes? (Other than Sasquatch attacks of course) The main Library and Archives Canada building is to reopen Wednesday after a burst water pipe flooded part of the downtown Ottawa building early Tuesday morning, damaging some 20th century books.
Ottawa firefighters arrived at the building shortly at about 2:30 a.m. after water began leaking onto the second floor.


National Archivist Tells SMU Grads It's All Good

Guess what was said at the SMU Commencement this weekend?

National Archivist Allen Weinstein, who oversees America's 12 presidential libraries, assured 2008 graduates of Southern Methodist University that the 13th (The George W. Bush Presidential Library) will be an asset to their alma mater – despite being the greatest controversy during their time at the school.

More on the event and Weinstein's comments from The Dallas News.

Where A Picture Is Worth Innumerable Words

One of the world's most enduring stories, The Ramayana has been told and retold throughout India and South East Asia for more than 2,000 years. Today, a collection of lavishly illustrated 17th-century manuscripts of the Sanskrit epic, hidden away in the archives of the British Library since 1844, goes on public display for the first time.

The Ramayana follows the quest of Prince Rama, exiled from his kingdom of Ayodha, to rescue his beautiful wife Sita from the demon king Ravana, with the help of an army of monkeys. Dating to somewhere between 500 and 100BC, and traditionally attributed to the sage Valmiki, the story originated in northern India, but quickly spread throughout the whole subcontinent, crossing religious as well as geographical boundaries. Story and, of course, pictures from The Independent UK.

A Sad Anniversary...History Up in Smoke

A report from The Galesburg Register Mail, recalling the big fire of 1958 started by an exhaust fan in the attic of the Galesburg Public Library. Family documents and letters from Abraham Lincoln were among items lost in the classic Carnegie library fire 50 years ago.

“The whole history of the city has gone up in smoke,” lamented C. Russell Carlson, a library director, in the May 10, 1958, edition of The Register-Mail.

While early estimates were that the library had lost everything, about 40,000 books were salvaged, although many were water damaged. Some of the rarest books in the library’s collection were spared because they had been kept in a vault.

But what did go up in smoke, according to Galesburg Public Library archivist Patty Mosher, was around 200,000 books worth about $500,000 at the time, the only existing copies of Galesburg newspapers dating to the mid-1800s, 60 oak chairs and 28 oak tables, 600 stereo optic view cards and 30 to 40 percent of the library’s archival material, including several letters signed by Abraham Lincoln.

It’s not known how many photographs, papers, letters, local family histories and artifacts were lost — but to Mosher, those were the most valuable items destroyed by the fire because those documents told the story of Galesburg’s founding.


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