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Picking Literary Stocks

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.

Details here

On Facebook, Librarian Brings Two Students from the Early 1900s To Life

Facebook user “joe1915” writes wall posts that would be familiar to any college student these days: He stresses about tests, roots for his university’s football team, and shows off photos from campus dances.

But Joe McDonald isn’t an average smartphone-toting student. He died in 1971 — 33 years before Facebook arrived on the Web.

Donnelyn Curtis, the director of research collections and services at the University of Nevada at Reno, created Facebook profiles for Mr. McDonald and his wife, Leola Lewis, to give students a glimpse of university life during the couple’s college days. Ms. Lewis graduated in 1913, and Mr. McDonald earned his degree in mechanical engineering two years later.

With approval from Mr. McDonald’s granddaughter, Peggy McDonald, Ms. Curtis said she’s using archival material for a history project designed to appeal to a wider audience than the typical patrons of special collections.

“We’re just trying to help history come alive a little bit for students,” she said. At first, only extended family members bothered to “friend” with the pair’s profiles, but as the audience grew, Ms. Curtis said she had to find a humorous voice that would appeal to contemporary students who use Facebook every day.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Israeli pulp fiction collection distinguishes ASU Libraries

Israeli pulp fiction collection distinguishes ASU Libraries
Bright, lively illustrations splash across the covers of small, aged booklets that comprise the IsraPulp collection at Arizona State University. The collection is the sole compilation of Israeli pulp fiction in the United States and contains a wide variety of works. Many of these booklets, known as chapbooks and about the size of a DVD case, are several decades old and representative of popular magazine style publications printed on rough, delicate chip paper.

Playboy collection arouses interest at UWO

Playboy collection arouses interest at UWO
Despite any embarrassment I might feel, the fact is that Playboy -- the monthly men's periodical started in 1953 by Hugh Hefner -- can offer some fascinating insight into our changing times and culture.

"You have to remember it's not just centrefolds and pictures," says Marnie Harrington, a librarian with UWO's Faculty of Information and Media Studies who worked with the collection after it was donated to the Weldon Library by a private donor about three years ago.

The collection is stored in a "research consultation room" on Weldon's second floor.

Librarians vs. Archivists

Librarians vs. Archivists
Next week, city council’s finance committee is to consider the naming of the new archives and library materials building, the one Mayor Jim Watson had proposed to name for Charlotte Whitton and he now proposes to name for James Bartleman.

I understand that part of the reason for choosing Bartleman, aside from all his positive attributes, is that the building is both a library and an archives building, and the library fans and the archives fans each want their own champion’s name on the building. The librarians are damned if they’ll accept an archivist’s name and the archivists are damned if they’ll accept a librarian.

Herewith, a salvo just launched from the library side, which wants the building to be named for Claude Aubry, Ottawa’s first bilingual chief librarian.

Books for Sale at Library of Michigan

Early in its history the Library of Michigan collected books within broad categories of topics and circulated them in wooden traveling boxes across the state, especially in areas where there were no libraries. The books in the collection were categorized under the Dewey Decimal System. In 1987 when the Library of Michigan converted to the Library of Congress system, the original Dewey books were never rolled into the new system. In essence, they became a shrine to the Dewey system and were seldom touched.

Donald Todaro, who has overseen the auction as assistant director of the state library, said in the last several decades the collection saw little or no use, even though the books occupied nearly half of the fourth floor of the Library of Michigan.

When former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration was looking for ways to save money it determined the library was an easy target. Ultimately, the library was hit with more than $1 million in cuts. It was able to maintain its Michigan and Genealogy collections while pretty much everything else was determined to be expendable, including staff: The library once had more than 130 employees, but that dropped to 32.

From the Lansing City Pulse, Library of Michigan wraps up its sale of 75,000 out-of-circulation volumes. The rare books however have mostly been culled from the collection.

Checking Out

Piece in the NYT by Shannon O’Neill. She is an archivist and reference librarian at the Atlantic City Free Public Library.

AS a librarian and archivist, I am often asked if I believe that, one day, libraries will disappear. While the present situation for many libraries is difficult — budget cuts, closings and furloughs — I think that libraries will persist.

One of my duties as an archivist is to document history. Given this, I cannot help but preserve the library artifacts that I find.

Full piece here. (Contains slide show of library items)

UK Display of Defaced Dustjackets by Playwright Joe Orton & Kenneth Halliwell

As crimes go it was not the most heinous of offences, but Islington council's principal law clerk, Sidney Porrett, made it his mission to nab the perpetrators.

"I had to catch these two monkeys," he said. "They were a couple of darlings, make no mistake."

The darlings in question were the playwright Joe Orton and his boyfriend – later murderer – Kenneth Halliwell, and the crimes were taking library books and returning them with comedy collages on the dustjackets.

After a fruitless investigation that involved undercover librarians, Porrett eventually caught the pair in an elaborate sting operation and they went to jail for six months each.

From Friday, the story of their crimes will be retold by the council, which is putting on display 40 of the 72 dustjackets that the pair defaced.

Islington's local history manager, Mark Aston, said it was the first time the jackets – "they're of international interest I'd say" – had gone on show in this number in the same place, and they shined a light on two fascinating lives and characters. More on Orton's short but dramatic life here.

Piece from Guardian UK.

Ark. Archivist Finds Missing Moon Rock

Last week, an archivist in Arkansas was sifting though boxes of papers from President Bill Clinton's gubernatorial years when he came across a surprise — a piece of the moon. The moon rock had been missing for about 30 years, and it was just one of about 180 moon rocks that are currently at-large. Melissa Block talks with retired senior special agent for NASA Joseph Gutheinz about the other missing rocks.

Listen to story on NPR

Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson

Review essay published in American Archivist

In 1763 James Boswell, a young Scot of twenty-two, met Samuel Johnson, then fifty-three and the most famous literary figure in London. From then until Johnson's death in 1784, Boswell was a frequent companion of the great man and, as he proved in his biography published in 1791, Johnson's documenter as well. After reading a couple of sentences of such description of this relationship, one could easily dismiss this as a minor literary event. Yet, Boswell's Life of Johnson was a pioneering biography, and, astonishingly, the book has stayed in print and been read by generations over the past two centuries. James Boswell's scholarship, methodology, and his own papers constitute an interesting story for archivists and other records professionals. Adam Sisman's study provides insights into how journals were conceived and created, glimpses into earlier perceptions of archives, the connection of archives to individual reputation, and a miscellany of other aspects of the formation of documents that demonstrate why archivists need to read outside their own professional literature.

Read full book review

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