Archives

Meet the new Archivist of the United States

Sharing a sense of history
Ferriero is first librarian in charge at National Archives. "It's an awesome responsibility," he said in the echoing rotunda of the building. "It's a stewardship kind of responsibility -- a long-term commitment by the U.S. government to ensure that these documents are available in perpetuity and available to the American public. "

A Library for Timbuktu

In the 16th century Timbuktu was a famous university town, full of students and scribes. Unfortunately, today the remnants of its libraries are in desperate straits, with dust, termites, rain and mice constantly taking a toll on those that survive.

But now there is hope: a state of the art library has landed in the dilapidated center of Timbuktu, offering the best hope of preserving and analyzing the town’s literary treasures. After several years of building and delays, the doors are finally about to open at the Ahmed Baba Institute, a £16,428,265 project paid for by the South African government.

BBC has the story

Manga Library in Japan

Meiji University in Tokyo has announced plans to open a library devoted to the art of manga, the Japanese graphic novel genre.

Full blurb at the NYT

WWII G.I. Returns German Books to Archives

After 64 years, veteran Robert E. Thomas returns books that he took from a salt mine in Germany during WWII that contained national treasures hidden by the Nazis. Both books were incunabula, one written in Latin and one in German. The National Archives facilitated the transfer.

Story and video from The Washington Post.

Where Do Dead Govt Websites Go? To The Cyber Cemetery

In an increasingly digitized world, the cyber cemetery has become the main publicly accessible depository for government records that don't exist on paper. The site is maintained by the University of North Texas and the U.S. Government Printing Office.

Other entities, such as the Internet Archive, take periodic snapshots of Web sites to preserve information. But the Cyber Cemetery, which also has partnered with the National Archives and Records Administration, focuses exclusively on government Web sites and captures them in their final and complete form, UNT Librarian for Digital Collections, Starr Hoffman said.

"Someone needs to take the responsibility of capturing the material for future researchers," said Cathy Hartman, Assistant Dean of Libraries at UNT. "This is government by the people, and we need access to see what our taxes are paying for."

The AP reports: The archived sites include the understandable — the Child Online Protection Act Commission of 2000 — and the unintelligible. (Check out the 2005 Commission on Systemic Interoperability or the 2000 International Competition Policy Advisory Committee Research Collection.) The work is varied, from commissions to help people have more access to health care information to panels that study 20th century antitrust problems.

Historic Letters Find a Home in New Mexico Library

The handwritten letter to former New Mexico Gov. Lew Wallace is polite, articulate and to the point.

"Dear Sir," begins the missive. "I wish you would come down to the jail and see me."

The letter is from Billy the Kid, dated 1881, and it and others like it are now housed at the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library in Santa Fe, NM.
Here's the story.

Spy Memoir Unsealed Twenty-Five Years After Author's Death

The British Library made public yesterday a 30,000-word memoir in which Anthony Blunt, one of Britain’s most renowned 20th-century art historians, and curator of the Queen's art collection, described spying for the Soviet Union, beginning in the mid-1930s, as “the biggest mistake of my life.”

The NY Times reports on the unsealing of the memoir after twenty five years. Blunt intended it as a testament to family and friends, and it was given to the British Library in 1984 by the executor of Blunt’s will, John Golding, on the condition that it be kept secret for 25 years. Frances Harris, the library’s head of modern historic manuscripts, told the BBC on Thursday that its existence was so closely guarded that even she had not read it until recently.

The memoir’s tone of regret for the price Blunt paid personally for betraying his country, coupled with the absence of any apology to those who suffered as a result of his actions, including secret agents working for Britain whose identities he passed to the Russians during World War II, contributed to harsh criticism of the document on Thursday from British historians and commentators.

Houston, We Erased The Apollo 11 Tapes

An exhaustive, three-year search for some tapes that contained the original footage of the Apollo 11 moonwalk has concluded that they were probably destroyed during a period when NASA was erasing old magnetic tapes and reusing them to record satellite data.

There is the saying, "If we can go to the moon we should be able to......" that ends with what you want to be able to do but cannot, can now be modified for libraries:

"If we can lose the moon landing tapes we can lose anything."

Story at NPR about the loss of the moon landing tapes and a mention of how a second copy offered some hope but in the end did not pan out.

UC Irvine Libraries diminishing support of Southeast Asian Archive

On July 13th the Los Angeles Times published the article "Budget cuts raise concerns for future of Southeast Asian archive". The Archives used to be managed and curated by Anne Frank, the librarian who spearheaded the archives, but once she retired, the UC Irvine Libraries' administration made the decision to not recruit for a replacement.

Read full LA Times article.

Gearing Up For Its Opening in 2013, Bush Wants to Display Saddam's Gun @ His Library

From the NY Times: When the library for George W. Bush opens in 2013 on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, visitors will most likely get to see one of the former President's most treasured items: Saddam Hussein’s pistol.

The gun, a 9 millimeter Glock 18C, was found in the spider hole where the Iraqi leader was captured in December 2003 by Delta Force soldiers, four of whom later presented the pistol to Mr. Bush. Among the thousands of gifts Mr. Bush received as president, the gun became a favorite, a reminder of the pinnacle moment of the Iraq war, according to friends and long-time associates.

Douglas Brinkley, an author and history professor at Rice University, said the pistol opened a psychological window into Mr. Bush’s view of his presidency.

“It represents this Texas notion of the white hats taking out the black hats and keeping the trophy,” Mr. Brinkley said. “It’s a True West magazine kind of pulp western mentality. For President Bush, this pistol represents his greatest moment of triumph, like the F.B.I. keeping Dillinger’s gun. He wants people generations from now to see the gun and say, ‘He got the bad guy.’ ”

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