Academic Libraries

Marginalia as Gold Dust

From the New York Times (scroll about halfway down to Found in the Margins):

In the last few months, foundations have given out hundreds of thousands of dollars to support research on the scribbles in the margins of old books.

Johns Hopkins University, Princeton and University College London have received funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to partner on a database, “The Archaeology of Reading in Early Modern Europe.” It will focus on 16th-century marginalia from the writers Gabriel Harvey, Isaac Casaubon and John Dee. Earle Havens, a library curator and professor at Johns Hopkins, said in an interview that the three “could not open a book without a pen in their hand.”

“The Archaeology of Reading” will result in searchable transcriptions of the annotators’ outrage, gossip, cross-references to other books and uncensored colloquial reactions. Harvey’s annotations are particularly revealing; he longed, futilely, to overcome his humble origins as a rope maker’s son and become a prominent legal figure.

Lisa Jardine, a professor at University College London, said that in Harvey’s marginalia, “You watch him move up the social ladder, but then he can’t straddle the final hurdles.”

Volumes marked up with handwriting used to be described as “dirty books” among dealers, she added. But in the modern age of words mostly appearing online, marginal notes can actually increase value. “Now they’re gold dust,” she said.

Edinburgh University has Given a Library Card to a Cat

Jordan has turned his back on his Catholic friar owners and adopted Edinburgh University library as his main residence. The feline has his own Facebook page set up by students with over 6,800 “likes”. [Ed. note: the Facebook page is a hoot; pictures of Library Cat and a stream-of-consciousness storyline by an anonymous commenter].

And now the black and white pet has been made “official” by getting a card for the library, complete with a photo and 2017 expiry date. The eight-year-old came to the Catholic chaplaincy as a kitten but never took to life as a mouse catcher with men of the cloth.

Despite being named after a 12th Century saint, Jordan preferred the company of trendy young students - and an easy life in the well-heated library. Every day, Jordan leaves the friary and crosses Edinburgh’s leafy George Square in the old town, to the university’s main library.

There, he enjoys being petted by students from across the globe, and even has a favourite turquoise chair near the door. More from Edinburgh News. And here's Jordan's interview on Scottish TV.

Temple University Plans Futuristic Snøhetta-Designed Robo-Library

From Curbed:

The planned library will cost $190M to complete, which should happen by 2018. It will be comprised of 210,000 square-feet of space and utilize a robotic text-retrieval system. Basically, students order the book and robotic arms poke through the stacks to deliver it.

A green roof and cafe space are also in the plans for the new library. The old Paley Library will be will be retooled as a welcome center, with a cafe, classrooms, and gathering spaces.

Is the College Model Ripe for Disruption?

With the rising costs of mounting student debt, education innovators are exploring ways to change the traditional college system. What might college 2.0 look like? WSJ's Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.

Wesleyan U. Librarian Fired for Disagreeing

Patricia A. Tully, a 10-year veteran with the university, served as the Caleb T. Winchester university librarian from March 2010 until her firing last month. The news was first reported by the campus blog Wesleying.

In a Sept. 2 email to the faculty listserv, Tully said she was fired because of her ongoing disagreements with Ruth S. Weissman, provost and vice president for academic affairs, “about how to lead people effectively in an organization.” The letter was later posted online.

“Both of us tried, at various times, to resolve these differences, but our efforts seemed always to be at cross-purposes,” Tully wrote.

Speaking to Inside Higher Ed, Tully said it was an “accumulation” of problems, and not a particular incident, that led to her firing. She declined to elaborate, saying she would be happy to have that conversation with Weissman.

Librarianship: A Philosophical Investigation

Hello,

I just had an online piece published by Ethos: A Digital Review of Arts, Humanities, and Public Ethics (run out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill. I thought, perhaps, that it might be of interest to a larger librarian readership. Here is the link if you are interested:

http://www.ethosreview.org/intellectual-spaces/librarianship-philosophical-investigation/

Thank you,

Kevin Klipfel

UC Riverside's world-class science fiction library under threat

http://boingboing.net/2014/08/12/uc-riversides-world-class-sc.html
Science fiction author Nalo Hopkinson, a professor at UC Riverside, sounds the alarm about a change in management at the Eaton Science Fiction Collection, the largest public science fiction and fantasy in the world.

The new library administration has alienated long-term staff (according to Hopkinson, it shades over into actual abuse), triggering waves of resignations, and is planning to drastically reduce the collection size.

Academic urban legends

Many of the messages presented in respectable scientific publications are, in fact, based on various forms of rumors. Some of these rumors appear so frequently, and in such complex, colorful, and entertaining ways that we can think of them as academic urban legends. The explanation for this phenomenon is usually that authors have lazily, sloppily, or fraudulently employed sources, and peer reviewers and editors have not discovered these weaknesses in the manuscripts during evaluation. To illustrate this phenomenon, I draw upon a remarkable case in which a decimal point error appears to have misled millions into believing that spinach is a good nutritional source of iron. Through this example, I demonstrate how an academic urban legend can be conceived and born, and can continue to grow and reproduce within academia and beyond.
http://sss.sagepub.com/content/44/4/638.long

Zinesters Take Over a New York City F Train (Peacefully), Will Move on Today to Staten Island Ferry

From The New York Times:

The two-day event, called the MTA Zine Residency, had been organized by a librarian and an archivist at the Barnard College library, which they said has the largest circulating collection of zines in an academic library. After producing zines on the F train, the group was planning to reconvene Monday on the Staten Island Ferry to put the finishing touches on their creations. The organizers of the residency said they hoped that the participants would sell or donate copies of their completed zines to the Barnard collection.

Jenna Freedman, the zine librarian at Barnard, said that the relative quiet and lack of phone and Internet connections made the subway a natural place to compose zines.

“There really is a pleasure to writing while you’re in motion,” she said. “I’ve always felt that time is most my own.”

Sweet Surprise Within a Cambridge U. Library Book

From Cambridge UK News:

A sweet surprise was waiting for Cambridge students during the exam period – hidden within the pages of a library book. During a stock check of the Newnham College Library, a student discovered a secret stash of chocolate concealed within the pages of The Oxford Companion to English Literature by Margaret Drabble, herself a Newnham alumna. The mysterious treat-giver had hollowed out the pages of the book and stowed a Crunchie and a Dairy Milk bar within.

Scrawled inside the pages is a message encouraging the lucky finder to enjoy the contents.

The note reads: “Dear student, congratulations on finding this book.
“Take your prize and return with one for the next person.”
The tome is not a Newnham College library book, and it believed to have been spirited in for the express purpose of concealing the chocolate bars.

Jo Tynan, a spokeswoman for Newnham College, told the News: “We do regular stock checks at the library and a student stock taker came across this book last week. “It didn’t have any issue numbers on it so she opened it and the inside had been completely hollowed out.”

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