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Keeping Scrapbooks Out of the Scrap Heap

From the New York Times: Next year is the centennial of America's great folk legend, Woody Guthrie, and fortunately for all of us, and thanks to a grant from the IMLS, we will be able to view some of the artifacts he collected over the years.

Woody Guthrie saved paperwork documenting his peripatetic life, from utility bills for New York apartments to fliers protesting shanty demolitions in Seattle and lyrics for folk songs performed at a Los Angeles radio station. He and his family put some of the artifacts in scrapbooks, but that did not fend off damage over the years.

A scrapbook page with a letter from Woody Guthrie to his sister. Grants are helping preserve deteriorating scrapbooks.

The glues and album bindings weakened and failed. The page edges turned brittle and crumbled. Newspaper clippings yellowed and tore.

The Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives, which the family helps run at a tiny office in Mount Kisco, N.Y., has long had to keep researchers away from the more fragile scrapbooks. “Anytime anyone looked through, I knew we would lose a portion of it,” said Tiffany Colannino, the collection’s archivist. -- Read More

Internet Archive Digital Librarian Seeks One of Every Book Written

"Tucked away in a small warehouse on a dead-end street, an Internet pioneer is building a bunker to protect an endangered species: the printed word...So far, (Brewster) Kahle has gathered about 500,000 books. He thinks the warehouse itself is large enough to hold about 1 million titles..."

Read more from the Associated Press via the Globe Gazette.

On Mistakenly Shredding a Prized Collection

Carla Tracy, director of the Thomas Tredway Library at Augustana College in Illinois writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Shortly after I began my career as a librarian, the Web made its appearance to the general public. Even with the broad scope afforded me through my educational background, I didn't believe the Web would amount to much. I could not imagine that this unimpressive resource would shake the very concept of the library as it had been known for hundreds of years.

The shaking hasn't stopped yet. College librarians are faced with the challenge of expanding digital media and study space while reducing print media. That reduction includes withdrawing books from the shelves, which, in effect, means selling, recycling, giving away, storing off-site (for those who can afford it), discarding, or shredding texts. Suddenly college librarians, among the world's greatest lovers of books, are viewed in certain corners as book destroyers.

If a library is a growing organism, then I've felt the growing pains keenly on our campus these last few months. In leading our library staff through an effort to remove certain books used only once in the past 25 years, if at all, I stand at the head of a series of events that inadvertently sent part of a reprint collection, written in classical Chinese, to the recycling center.

More from Chronicle.com.

A Bookshelf the Size of the World

From the Boston Globe:

As the digitization of human culture accelerates, publishers and academics have had to begin addressing a basic question: Who will control knowledge in the future?

So far, the most likely answer to that question has been a private company: Google. Since 2004 Google Books has been scanning books and putting them online; the company says it has already scanned more than 15 million. Google estimates there are about 130 million books in the world, and by 2020, it plans to have scanned them all.

Now, however, a competitor may be emerging. Last year, Robert Darnton, a cultural historian and director of Harvard University’s library system, began to raise the prospect of creating a public digital library. This library would include the digitized collections of the country’s great research institutions, but it would also bring in other media - video, music, film - as well as the collection of Web pages maintained by the Internet Archive.

Will Bobby Kennedy's Papers Be Heading to JFK Library?

BOSTON, July 12 (UPI) -- Archivists are preparing to make public 63 boxes of Robert F. Kennedy's papers kept secret for 40 years, Boston's John F. Kennedy Presidential Library said.

The decision to open the 63 boxes was reached March 1 after years of efforts to persuade Robert Kennedy's widow, Ethel, to give control of his papers to the library, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Library Director Thomas J. Putnam said archivists should finish organizing and declassifying the papers in six months to a year.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/07/12/Archivists-preparing-Robert-Kennedy-papers/UPI-580...

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But according to another story in today's New York Times, family members are having second thoughts about where the papers should be housed and are considering moving them elsewhere because they believe that the presidential library has not done enough to honor the younger brother’s legacy.

Many of the papers, dealing with Cuba, Vietnam and civil rights, are classified as secret or top secret. There are also 2,300 other boxes covering every stage of Robert Kennedy’s life, including his years as a United States senator and attorney general, most of which have already been opened for research.

J. P. Morgan Library's John Bidwell Talks about Curation & Such

Before he became the first name of a bank, J. P. Morgan was a Wall Street mogul who, a century ago, bequeathed his collection of 14,000 or so rare books to what his son would transform into the Morgan Library and Museum on Madison Avenue. Since then, the collection has grown to about 80,000 printed books, supervised since 1999 by John Bidwell, 63, the Astor Curator of Printed Books and Bindings. He majored in history at Columbia University, and received his master’s at Columbia’s School of Library Service and his doctorate in English from Oxford. Dr. Bidwell commutes from Princeton, N.J., where he lives with his wife, Andrea Immel, a curator at Princeton University Library.

What makes a book rare: There are plenty of books that are valuable and not rare, and plenty of books that are rare and not valuable. Example: The Morgan is celebrated for being the one institution in the world for having three Gutenberg Bibles. You might say it’s not extremely rare because there are 50 known copies in various states of completeness in the world. On the other hand, we have plenty of early books that are the only known copy in the world, some of them deservedly so.

Library rat: I’ve had no other job but to work in libraries since I was a college undergraduate. As soon as I realized it was time for me to go back to graduate school, I knew I wanted to work in rare book libraries, and that’s all I’ve done.

More from The New York Times.

Better Late Than Never: A National Librarian for Malta

Sure, it's a small country, but there are thousands of years of history in these seven small islands. And according to The Times of Malta , "Malta will soon have a national librarian who will be responsible to ensure that priceless books, documents and manuscripts are collected and maintained for posterity.

The lack of leadership had meant that Malta’s national and public libraries did not have a direction and valuable manuscripts were being allowed to rot.

Speaking during the launch of a new restoration machine, Education Minister Dolores Cristina yesterday said a call for applications would soon be issued for the post of national librarian after the awaited Malta Libraries Act was published a few weeks ago.

She added that she was currently working on the appointments to the Libraries’ Council that will work to promote libraries and facilitate collaboration between different stakeholders.

The council, which will serve for three years, will be made up of a chairman, national archivist, the head of the university’s archives studies, director of local council departments and another three members.

The law also sets up Malta Libraries as a legal entity that can enter into contracts, acquire books and manage resources. -- Read More

Internet Archive Launches Physical Archive - Brewster Kahle makes case for preserving books

The Internet Archive’s latest project is launching a Physical Archive to store and preserve books and historic materials.

You can read all about it on Brewster Kahle's blog
http://blog.archive.org/2011/06/06/why-preserve-books-the-new-physical-archive-of-the-intern...

Why preserve books? The new physical archive of the Internet Archive

Books are being thrown away, or sometimes packed away, as digitized versions become more available. This is an important time to plan carefully for there is much at stake.

Interesting piece at Teleread about the Internet Archive preserving physical books.

Who Should Digitize (And Who Should Profit From) a Nation's Newspaper Archives?

Google announced last week that it was shutting down its News Archive Project. Akin to the massive Google Books project, this was a plan to digitize the world's newspaper archives and make them searchable online. But if you're worried about the digitization and preservation of British newspapers, fear not. As The Guardian reports today, the British Library is moving forward with its plans to digitize some 40 million newspaper pages from its vast 750 million collection.

Full piece

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