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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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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)