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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

How Archivists Helped Video Game Designers Recreate the City's Dark Side for 'L.A. Noire'

How Archivists Helped Video Game Designers Recreate the City's Dark Side for 'L.A. Noire'
Earlier this week, video game enthusiasts and fans of L.A. history cheered the release of Rockstar Games' L.A. Noire, a police procedural game noted for its faithful reproduction of Los Angeles circa 1947. To recreate a city now hidden beneath 64 years of redevelopment projects and transformed by age and expansion, production designers with the game's developer, Team Bondi, consulted several Los Angeles area archives.

Gaming the Archives

From the Chronicle of Higher Ed
May 23, 2011, 5:13 pm
By Jennifer Howard

There’s no shortage of fabulous archival material lurking in college and university collections. The trick is finding it.

Without good metadata—labels that tell researchers and search engines what’s in a photograph, say—those archives are as good as closed to many students and scholars. But many institutions don’t have the resources or manpower to tag their archives thoroughly.

Enter Metadata Games, an experiment in harnessing the power of the crowd to create archival metadata. A team of designers at Dartmouth College, working with archivists there, has created game interfaces that invite players to tag images, either playing alone or with a partner (sometimes a human, sometimes a computer). Solo players think up tags to describe the images they see; in the two-player scenario, partners try to come up with the same tag or tags.....Read the rest here....

In Elite Library Archives, a Dispute Over a Trove

In Elite Library Archives, a Dispute Over a Trove
In a move that has turned scholarly heads, Paul Brodeur, a former investigative reporter for The New Yorker, who donated thousands of pages of his work to the library, is demanding that the papers be returned. He claims that an institution renowned for its careful stewardship of historical documents has badly mishandled his.

The charges are roiling the genteel world of research archivists, who usually toil in dust-jacket obscurity, and inciting a lively debate about which pieces of the past are worth preserving.

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