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A Lost Art

Topic: 
A century from now our handwriting may be legible only to experts. The author of a book on the history of handwriting says that handwriting is declining so fast that ordinary, joined-up script may become as hard to read as a medieval manuscript. “When your great-great-grandchildren find that letter of yours in the attic, they’ll have to take it to a specialist, an old guy at the library who would decipher the strange symbols for them,” she says. The article closes with this comment.

Digital Archivists, Now in Demand

WHEN the world entered the digital age, a great majority of human historical records did not immediately make the trip.

Literature, film, scientific journals, newspapers, court records, corporate documents and other material, accumulated over centuries, needed to be adapted for computer databases. Once there, it had to be arranged — along with newer, born-digital material — in a way that would let people find what they needed and keep finding it well into the future.

The people entrusted to find a place for this wealth of information are known as digital asset managers, or sometimes as digital archivists and digital preservation officers. Whatever they are called, demand for them is expanding.

Full story in the New York Times

Understanding Archiving Requirements: Seven Guiding Principles For A Defensible And Compliant Infrastructure Strategy

From the GC to the CIO down to the storage administrator, there has been no lack of discussion on new rules for managing data and electronic documents. Everything from regulatory compliance such as Sarbanes-Oxley to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure has made IT aware that they need to be ready to archive more data longer. Yet the most common refrain heard is: "I know I need to do something, just someone tell me what I specifically have to do." How do you cut through the fog, and develop specific technical requirements for saving, managing and deleting data in an archival system? Despite confusion, archiving of data can actually be broken down into fundamental requirements.

LISTen and Hyperlinked History by The Faceless Historian

While Stephen deals with the stress of moving, he asked that I fill in for him for a special episode of LISTen - The LISNews Podcast. As my alter-ego, The Faceless Historian, I'll take you on a journey through history back to the distant past and the origins of the DRM and copying controversies we deal with today.

Stephen and the regular LISTen gang will be back next week with your regularly scheduled podcast. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy something a little different about something related to issues we face in libraries today.

Head of South Carolina Archives and History Cuts His Own Job

Topic: 
The director of the S.C. Department of Archives and History is cutting his own job to two days a week to help his agency deal with the latest round of budget cuts. Rodger Stroup, 62, had planned to retire as director of the agency in February after working 30 years in state government, but the agency board of directors asked him to stay on through June while it searches for his replacement. Stroup agreed. Then as the agency staff worked to trim the budget yet again in December, Stroup opted to cut his own work schedule to save somebody else’s job.

Losing Our memories

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<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/jan/25/internet-heritage ">The chief executive of the British Library is worried</a>. He fears that digital records — from the photographs on our personal computers to the records of political parties and businesses — are vanishing, that “historians and citizens of the future will find a black hole in the knowledge base of the 21st century.” What is the answer? “People often assume that commercial organisations such as Google are collecting and archiving this kind of material — they are not.

Lincoln Cathedral (UK) Magna Carta on Display at Reagan Library

A copy of the Magna Carta is the centerpiece of a new exhibition at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley.

USA Today reports on the exhibition that runs til June 20 and will include scenes from life in England in 1215, the year the Magna Carta was recorded.

According to the cathedral's website, the bishops of Lincoln were among the magnates of medieval England and when the Magna Carta was drawn up in 1215, one of the witnesses was Hugh of Wells, Bishop of Lincoln, who returned with his copy to the city. Today Lincoln's copy of the document is only one of four originals from 1215 that still exist.

Repository services, Galleries vs. self-storage units, Supporting deposit and access

John Mark Ockerbloom explains how that for a viable institutional repository, you need quite a bit more than just “a place to put stuff”: you need a suite of services that support its purposes. In Part 2, he enumerates some of the specific services that we need or find useful in our institutional scholarship repository.

Lincoln Library Acquires Civil War Letters

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A collection of letters and sketches penned by a Civil War soldier has been acquired by Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

The correspondence was purchased from the Union soldier's family for $25,000.

Born in Scotland in 1823, William Wyllie became a corporal with the 58th Illinois Infantry after enlisting from St. Charles.

Library officials say his letters are extremely detailed. (Wyllie) was very literate and made very astute observations.” “He explains things,” said Glenna Schroeder-Lein, with the library’s manuscripts department. “What being on guard duty is, how long the shifts are, how things were cooked.”

Wyllie, a stonemason with a fourth-grade education, was born in Scotland in 1823. He enlisted from St. Charles when he was about 40 years old. His entries reveal a devoutly religious man. He comments on sermons and was scornful of officers who drank and gambled. The letters include accounts of a whiskey riot and the Red River Campaign of 1864. He was guard at a Confederate prison.

He almost always was writing, sometimes stopping abruptly and, after a day or two, picking up where he left off. But he also spent his free time during the war knitting gloves and socks he sent back to his three children, one of whom, a young daughter named Lillie, died while he was away.

Ebony and Jet Magazines Go Digital

Ebony and Jet Magazines have joined the 21st Century (and Google), and have gone digital.

According to the Chicago Tribune, prior to this deal, the magazine's have kept their past issues in bound volumes and on microfilm, so if anyone needed to look up an old article, librarians would have to search through the company's archives.

However, with a new deal in place, both Ebony and Jet will be made searchable on the technology giant's growing database of publications. Johnson Publishing's partnership with Google gives readers access to more than nine magazine titles and 20 million photographs documenting 63 years, reports the paper.

But, issues prior to 1960, they're having a problem with because of the issues' fragility or limited availability. So, the company is asking for help from their readers and librarians? "to pull stuff from the basement" to aid with the archiving.

Follow Up: Springsteen Stuff Returned to Library

From the AP: A group of Bruce Springsteen fans who perhaps took the Boss’s song “No Surrender” a bit too seriously have returned more than 1,100 pieces of Springsteen memorabilia to the Asbury Park Public Library in New Jersey, The Associated Press reported.

The library told The A.P. no charges would be filed if the materials were returned in good condition.

Friends and Library Squabble Over Bruce Springsteen Memorabilia

Nineteen boxes of Bruce Springsteen memorabilia worth about $30,000 were returned to the Asbury Park (NJ) Public Library shortly after noon Thursday, providing intermediary relief to a feud that had led the library to file a police complaint to get approximately 1,120 items returned.

The complaint against Bob Crane and Dan Toskaner, members of the Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection, said the men in September 2007 had removed with the library's permission about a fourth of the collection housed there since 2001 to be microfilmed at the OCLC Preservation Resources microfilming facility in Bethlehem, Pa.

Approximately 1,334 items were picked up March 14, 2008, but not returned to the library, except for 208 items returned in May. The rest of the articles, books, tour programs and worldwide items became part of an ongoing dispute between Crane and library director Robert Stewart over ownership of the collection.

Crane says the materials belong to the Friends group except for the original 744 documents he turned over to the library in 2001 for which he received a tax credit and which launched the collection at the historic city library.

National Archivist Allen Weinstein Resigns

National Archivist Allen Weinstein Resigns: On December 7, historian Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, submitted his resignation to the president, effective December 19, 2008. Professor Weinstein, who has Parkinson's disease, cited health reasons for his decision.
Deputy Archivist of the United States, Adrienne Thomas, will serve as Acting Archivist until a new Archivist is appointed, in accordance with the National Archives governing statute, 44 USC 2103(c).

[Black] Friday is the National Day of Listening

It doesn't have to be a day of frenzied shopping...

David Isay, one of the most original minds in media, is the creator of Story Corps, the nationwide project that gets ordinary people to sit together and tell the stories that we never take the time to hear from our parents, grandparents, friends and other loved ones. Some of those stories end up on NPR, and some are just recorded for a family's own safekeeping.

Now, Isay has decided to respond to the economic crisis with a National Day of Listening, on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It's a way to capitalize on the fact that many of us will spend the holiday weekend with relatives or friends, and while we'll catch up on what's going on at work and how the family is doing, it's much harder to carve out the time and figure out how to ask the essential questions about life that too often never get asked. On the Story Corps website, there's a DIY page that offers recommendations for, well, doing it yourself...

Beats going to Kohl's at 4:00 am?

Treasures From a Musty Attic Go To the Historical Society

When cleaning out the attic of the Guilford H. Hathaway (MA) Library, Michael McCue and others found more than just some musty items and cobwebs.

Instead, they found historical treasures from the 19th century to the mid-20th century that they now plan to preserve at the Historical Society Museum on Slab Bridge Road.

Among the artifacts were pencil sketches of two town officials, Guilford Hathaway and George W. Hall; a handwritten list of World War II airplane spotters who were town residents; items from the town’s various Temperance Society groups; collars and other pieces of clothing from town marching band uniforms; and an 1897 original layout of the Assonet Burying Ground.

Were You There When Ike Hit? Tell The Library Your Story

GALVESTON, Texas — A Hurricane Ike-damaged library wants to share stories of Galveston residents who rode out the storm on the island and those who fled.

From The Houston Chronicle: The Rosenberg Library is seeking personal accounts of the hurricane, which hit Galveston on Sept. 13, as part of its historical project "Memories of Ike."

The library, on its Web site, says recording Hurricane Ike from the viewpoint of the everyday citizen offers a chance to understand the disaster from the "ground up."

The Rosenberg Library also welcomes personal accounts of those who evacuated, with the written information eventually being made available to researchers and authors. The library itself is an Ike survival story, after the storm surge swamped the first floor and destroyed some building internal systems.

Leonardo codex to be dismantled

Charley Hively found This One where The world's top Leonardo Da Vinci expert on Tuesday spoke out in favour of dismantling a 12-volume collection of work by the Renaissance genius. Commenting on plans to reverse a controversial 1970s restoration project, which would leave the Codex Atlanticus as a bundle of loose pages, Carlo Pedretti said he approved of the proposal. ''The damage has already been done. The Codex Atlanticus was ruined when its pages were first assembled into 12 volumes,'' he said.

A Taste of Culinary History at the Toronto Reference Library

From now through January 11th, 2009, the Toronto Reference Library (TRL) is offering a peek into the history of food in Toronto through an exhibit in their gallery space called Local Flavour: Eating in Toronto, 1830-1955.

Curated by librarian Sheila Carleton of the Special Collections, Genealogy & Maps Centre, the idea for the exhibit came about because of the opportunity to restore some historical cookbooks in the TRL’s collection. “In 2006, the Toronto Reference Library was invited to apply for a grant from the Culinary Trust for restoration of up to 4 historical cookbooks in our collection,” explains Carleton. “Our application was accepted and two local conservators were commissioned to carry out the work."

And for the recession-wary, a look at a few old menus is sure to amuse – in 1904, the calf’s head with mushrooms was only 25 cents at Webb’s; and a chicken dinner with soup, salad and dessert, plus tea, coffee or hot chocolate was $1.25 at Traymore Savarin on Bay Street in 1925.

Political Life Imitates, Well Not Art, but The Onion

The folks at Boingboing have unearthed <A href="http://www.boingboing.net/2008/10/30/onion-headline-from.html">an uncannily topical story</A> from a 1993 issue of The Onion. "The Onion has a preposterous fake story about a character named Roy the Forklift driver becoming a media darling of the conservative movement. " Aren't archives grand?

Deja Vu All Over Again as Rains Drench Hawaii

It was the third time in four years that the library has suffered during fall rains. "It seems like every year around this time," said Kyle Hamada, conservation librarian at the University of Hawaii's Hamilton Library.

About a year ago, Hamilton Library suffered about $500,000 worth of damage when thousands of books and rare documents were wrecked by heavy rain.

This time, says a report from the Honolulu Advertiser, the flooding was apparently caused by repair work debris that clogged drain pipes. The library continues to recover from damage caused in 2004 during flooding on Halloween.

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