“No one else is saving it”: the fight to protect a historic music collection

The ARChive of Contemporary Music, which houses more than 90m songs and is supported by names such as Martin Scorsese, is in need of a new home

The Arc preserves copies of every recording in all known formats. It has electronically catalogued more than 400,000 sound recordings and digitised 200,000 with the Internet Archive – more than any other public university or private library in America. It also contains more than 3m pieces of material including photos, videos, DVDs, books, magazines, press kits, sheet music, ephemera and memorabilia.

Why the smell of vinegar shut down a Toronto library’s historical newspaper archive

Why the smell of vinegar shut down a Toronto library’s historical newspaper archive

But in the years since, libraries, archives and collectors have discovered “safety film” actually poses a huge threat to film-based archives and collections because it eventually breaks down. An early indication is the smell of vinegar, which comes from acetic acid that the film gives off as it degrades. Eventually, the film shrinks and cracks until the image is lost.

The destructive and contagious chemical decay is aptly called “vinegar syndrome” — and it means the clock is ticking for those trying to preserve history from this era in Toronto, across the country and around the world.

New policies address paper mills and unprofessional conduct – The Official PLOS Blog

On February 1, 2023, PLOS introduced two new policies: one addressing manipulation of the publication process and the other outlining standards for professional conduct. Here, we provide brief excerpts and information about the policies for which the full text is on our journals%u2019 Ethical Publishing Practice pages.


New Year, New Weed

New Year, New Weed

The biggest takeaway from this project was that deselection of materials had a largely positive impact on the age of the collection, greater than just adding brand new materials could. It’s like trying to mix a grey paint; you’re going to need to dump a whole lot of white onto your black paint to get it to lighten up. It’s so much more effective if you take all the old, unused stuff away first. Committing to keeping up with how we are progressing towards our goals is the only way I would have found out that the time invested by liaison librarians into collection development has been paying off – and more importantly, just how much of an impact their actions made. I think it is so much more valuable to see that quantitative comparison in the data than to simply say “good job.”

The Most Unique Libraries in the World

Even for those who read only sporadically, there is a certain fascination with spaces that hold books, be they some of the world%u2019s most beautiful libraries or the world%u2019s most stunning bookstores. Booklovers are forever searching out books wherever they go, which can sometimes lead to discovering some extraordinary spots that allow you to bend sideways and read what%u2019s on offer. Here are some of the world%u2019s most unusual libraries, ranging from libraries resembling the Escher Stairs to one hidden inside a tree.

The Colleagues Who’ve Left

The Colleagues Who’ve Left

Last year I started a chart tracking colleagues who had left my institution. When I left for the winter break finally, the number stood at 37 and I’m sure I missed a few. These are spread across the university, though nearly half are from the Library. It includes people I worked with regularly enough that their leaving had a significant impact on me, with a sprinkling of high level administrators whose transitions always end up with creating waves of change likely to reach me at some point. I started tracking because I knew that the volume was going to be high and that I would need to be able to see at year’s end — at scale — how significant the disruptions had been.

Secret and mysterious libraries


While real-world libraries are, sadly, corporeally and temporally fixed (and, as far as I know, have never employed an orangutan as Head Librarian), there are still plenty of examples of libraries around the world that are secret or restricted, dealing with very different kinds of texts to the public libraries we know and love. While several of these libraries have now opened up, at least partially, their histories are still fascinating, and learning about them has that special spark of uncovering a secret.

Ten Stories That Shaped 2020

Here’s my annual look back at some of the notable library headlines from this year. Can you guess what number one is?

10. News Flash: Prejudice Still Exists

The problem of algorithms propagating bias continues to be an important issue in our field.

9. More Elsevier Cancellations

Following the University of California’s break with their expensive subscription costs in 2019, other libraries have joined the cause.

8. The USPS Slowdown

As libraries rely upon the mail for many services, such as interlibrary loan, the problems with the postal service before the election was a story worth following.

Honorable Mention: Curbside Videos

On the lighter side, several libraries created innovative marketing materials for their adjusted pick-up procedures due to COVID-19.

7. Scandals Roundup

Issues attracting bad publicity this year included the beleaguered American Dirt release; former Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh’s fraud conviction; the removal of Gone with the Wind from the airwaves; the weeding process at New Zealand’s National Library; toner theft from the Austin library; and J.K. Rowling’s dubious attempt to convince people that transgender people can be criminals by penning a novel featuring a transgender criminal.

6. Proctorio’s Bonkers Surveillance Practices

Online test taking had a bit of a moment this year, for obvious reasons. The methods employed by exam proctoring software, however, have raised several eyebrows.

5. The Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library

Due to the closure of many physical library buildings, the nonprofit organization running the digital library at opened its texts for free viewing, much to the chagrin of commercial publishers. An ensuing lawsuit had the desired effect: the project was shut down. The fair use practice of online story hours faced similar threats.

Dishonorable Mention: Bad Patron Behavior

Librarians adjusting their service models due to the pandemic this year were often challenged by patrons with unrealistic and uninformed expectations about how libraries should be operating, not to mention blatant acts of rudeness.

4. Vaccine Hunt Fraught with IP Issues

Ah, capitalism. The search for a COVID-19 vaccine was driven, and perhaps hindered by, interests of those seeking to monetize the cure.

3. Bookstores Challenge Amazon

Amazon reaped in record profits this year, while several brick-and-mortar stores closed their doors for good. The efforts of to compete with the retail giant received some much needed attention.

2. Misinformation Endangers Lives, Democracy

Conspiracy theories about the coronavirus abounded this year, causing an untold number of unnecessary deaths. And earlier this month, a poll of Republican congressman discovered that just ten percent of them will say who won the presidential election. As for librarians, if our mission is to slay ignorance, our role in combating bad information remains unclear.

1. #closethelibraries due to COVID-19

With a few notable exceptions, library leaders were excessively slow to shut down their buildings in order to protect the health of their workers and clientele. A campaign to close the libraries spread before many of the closures finally occurred. How libraries will reopen in 2021 is yet to be seen.

What was your favorite story of 2020?