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Barry H. Landau, the once-esteemed collector of presidential memorabilia, was sentenced seven years in federal prison Wednesday for stealing thousands of historic documents from archives and libraries in Baltimore and up the East Coast. The 64-year-old was also ordered to pay roughly $46,000 in restitution. No sentencing date is yet set for his 25-year-old accomplice, Jason James Savedoff, who, like Landau, has pleaded guilty to theft of major artwork and conspiracy charges.
If something is where it's supposed to be, can you still call it a "discovery"? Suzanne Fischer, in the Atlantic, says "no."
It's an interesting discussion about cataloging archival material and the work that is, by necessity, still on the shoulders of researchers, spurred by the recent reporting of the "discovery" of a medical report filed by Charles Leale, the first doctor on the scene when Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot at the Ford Theater.
In the case of the recent press on the Leale report, the report had not yet been catalogued, cutting off discovery for ordinary researchers searching with finding aids and online catalogues. It's very possible, of course, with the volume of material that archives hold, for a particular professional to not know exactly what the repository holds. This is because archivists catalogue not at "item level," a description of every piece of paper, which would take millennia, but at "collection level," a description of the shape of the collection, who owned it, and what kinds of things it contains. With the volume of materials, some collections may be undescribed or even described wrongly.
From The Verge,
"As the publication world is dragged, kicking and screaming, into the digital world, a lot of complex issues come up. One of the most important, especially for librarians and archivists (not to mention students of history looking to the future), is the question of preservation...The problem, says Barbara Galletly reporting for Digital Book World, is that the foundation for such a transition has not been properly laid, digital preservation is a largely chaotic, random affair right now, and the metadata itself is unstable."
In National Archives thefts, a radio detective gets his man
Goldin exposed what authorities have called “one of the most egregious instances of theft” from the National Archives, where the government preserves billions of historic documents, photographs and recordings. On Thursday, that investigation is scheduled to culminate in the sentencing in Greenbelt’s federal court of a longtime Archives official who has admitted to stealing nearly 1,000 recordings, many of them rare.
In dusty library, a link to heroic past
An engraving inside a medical text depicting the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, at Brown University's library, in Providence. The engraved print, unearthed in a rare collection of books that once belonged to a student in the 1700s, was by the American Revolution icon Paul Revere, and is only the fifth copy known to exist.
Conservatives defend cuts to Archives Canada
Responding to criticism that budget cuts are undermining the ability of Library and Archives Canada to preserve Canada's documentary heritage, a spokesman for Heritage Minister James Moore said Thursday that efforts to digitize the collection will give Canadian taxpayers greater access while saving them money.
NEWTOWN, Conn. — J. David Goldin, an eccentric 69-year-old with a handlebar mustache and an obsession with radio, was trolling eBay one evening in September 2010, looking for old radios and recordings, when he spotted an item that piqued his interest: the master copy of a broadcast radio interview with baseball legend Babe Ruth as he hunted for quail and pheasants on a crisp morning in 1937.
For a moment, Goldin contemplated bidding. It was the kind of historic recording that would fit perfectly in his collection of more than 100,000 radio broadcasts, all meticulously enhanced and preserved on tapes stored in thin white boxes on a maze of shelves in his humidity- and temperature-controlled basement “vault.” Then he leaned closer to his computer, adjusted his thick glasses and studied the record’s photograph and description.
What happened next would set in motion a federal investigation with a twist worthy of a classic radio drama.
Archive Team Targets Digital Dark Ages
Archive Team is a loose collective of rogue archivists, programmers, writers and loudmouths dedicated to saving our digital heritage. Since 2009 this variant force of nature has caught wind of shutdowns, shutoffs, mergers, and plain old deletions - and done our best to save the history before it's lost forever. Along the way, we've gotten attention, resistance, press and discussion, but most importantly, we've gotten the message out: IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY.
'The written word endures' at archives
Photos of sod shanties. Newspaper clippings. Naturalization papers. Court testimony. A letter to President Ulysses S. Grant. Actual government red tape.
Volunteers who are digitizing Nebraska's homestead records at the National Archives are encountering more than a treasure trove of historical and genealogical information.
"You never know what you'll find," said Jackie Budell, an archives specialist who supervises the volunteers. "That's what we call 'psychic pay.' "
Jonathan Franzen: SELL
Toni Morrison: HOLD
Philip Roth: BUY
Article mentions the Ransom Center at the University of Texas has started guessing which authors will have lasting historical import and then buying up their papers.