Archives for posts with tag: Found

Ok. So, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. The fact is, I’ve been learning the ropes at the Ottawa Public Library – in between training and meetings, I get to do some actual work. What work? Well, as an Integrated Library Systems Librarian, I get to bang literal and metaphorical wrenches against the largely metaphorical pipes that keep information flowing around the library.

I’ve latched onto the metaphor of being something like a Victorian steam engineer, working away in a gritty bunker trying to keep this big ol’information mill spinning. Without all the Steampunkish insinuations, it is a cool enough idea. Never mind that I cross through a children’s library to get to the office where my desk is…

Anyways, I’ve been remiss in following up on some posts I’ve half-started. So, in the interest of clearing my slate, here’s a run-down.

1.  The New Surrey BC Main Library looks like a space base. Cool.

2. A paper released by the Public Lending Right Commission gives the  state of affairs vis-a-vis eBooks in Canada. It’s a bit watery, but the point is things have to change for eBooks to remain viable for public libraries (duh…).

3.  A cool graffiti taxonomy archive.

4. Author Lev Grossman declares himself to be crochety about eBooks via the New York Times. Nice art with the article, though.


G.S. Irish, Photographer - Reflection in a Gazing Ball

From @PhotosOfThePast comes a link to an amazing collection of early photography and pre/proto-photography pictures and tech (like a set of neat pics of a camera obscura kit). Totally worth the time spent browsing. Thanks to Beverly(and her husband) for putting this together.

Muldoon and Miller - Wrestlers - Carte-de-visite

Happily, every Nancy Drew title is an innuendo.

A librarian is in the news. Not because of budget cuts, literacy or eBooks, but for something much more fun – some good ol’fashioned mystery:

A former Brown University museum librarian who once examined a Tiffany-silver sword now at the center of an ownership duel between the Ivy league school and a Virginia collector says in an affidavit “there is no doubt” university drawings match photos of the sword located last year in a Virginia museum.
The affidavit by John H. Stanley is among supporting documents in Brown’s filing. Brown has asked a judge to reject a motion by the lawyer for Donald R. and Toni M. Tharpe, of Williamsburg, Va., to dismiss the university’s lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Brown wants what it says is its long-missing sword returned. A Sept. 7 trial is scheduled.
At issue is a sword presented in 1863 to Col. Rush C. Hawkins, of a New York Civil War regiment. It was later part of the Annmary Brown Memorial at Brown in memory of Hawkins’ wife, who was a granddaughter of a founder of the university.[read full article]

This story also requires: an abandoned library building, some people who seem creepily yet appear innocent (at first), and a shaky flashlight chase down a dark secret tunnel. The heart races, no?

The good people at The Register have declared the Bayeux Tapestry one heck of an effective archival medium:

In the town of Bayeux in northern France you can see the world’s oldest information archive based on a long ribbon of material, a very early example of what was to become tape media…

From the endurance point of view the Tapestry has lasted almost 1000 years – an amazing record. The vegetable dyes used to colour the threads have kept their colour for nearly one hundred decades, and the woven cloth fabric has kept its structural integrity for the same time period despite several instances of mistreatment. Who says ribbons of “TAPEstry” are unreliable?[read full article]

I’ve never thought of the tapestry this way.  Mostly, I know it from the opening to Robinhood Prince of Thieves.

Art as a mnemonic recall tool has been used the world over.  Anyone familiar with indigenous peoples’ land claim disputes in Canada knows how wampum belts can be used as legal/historical documents.

In a world where so much cultural production is high-tech and/or disposable,  history will always provide examples of lower-tech approaches that have an enduring quality.

There are some risks. The Bayeux tapestry requires a mix of other records to survive for us to understand it.  A series of floods and fires could have wiped its story off the historical map. Still, it gets points for lasting.

Will today’s digital repositories achieve this sort of longevity? Even in the last 50 years,  some digital records has slipped from our grasp because of fast moving technological developments.

The Bayeux Tapestry is a good reminder to keep things simple. It’s also a reminder that archiving information, though a fallible process at the mercy providence, is important in information saturated times such as these.

It’s not about preserving a single item, like the tapestry. It’s important to work to capture the information that makes any single item make sense. This is the ongoing challenge and the wonderful mission of archives.

I had a minor injury last week, and I’m just back to work today. While I catch up on my data-fixin’, I thought I’d pass this fun news on.

From the Toronto Star:

The skeleton of a giant rabbit about six times the size of a modern bunny has been found on an island off the coast of Spain.

The fossils of Nuralagus rex were found on the island of Minorca, according to details released Monday in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Dubbed the Minorcan King of the Rabbits, the bunny lived approximately 3 million to 5 million years ago and weighed about 26 pounds.

It’s so large that when lead author Dr. Josep Quintana from the Institut Català de Paleontologia found the first bone, at age 19, he thought it belonged to the giant Minorcan turtle.

But it isn’t just its massive size that separates it from Peter Cottontail.

While modern rabbits have long, springy spines, N. rex had a short stiff spine that would have made hopping difficult.[full article]

I love a) the idea of a giant clumsy pre-historic rabbit and b) the photoshop job that came with the article.


"Life Mag is a bunch of SUCKAS, 4 reals. LOL"

From the Toronto Star:

A cache of “rare, unseen” photographs from Eva Braun’s private photo album that flashed across the Life magazine website are pictures publicly available since 1947 and the legendary photo magazine has been duped, the U.S. National Archives says.

“We’ve had them here since 1947,” Edward McCarter, head of still photography at the archives, told the Star on Thursday. “Anyone could see them for free.”[full article]

With all the fiscal woe and licensing news, it’s nice to see a library/archivist type makes waves for something this awesome.

Incidentally, it’s also not the first time people have fallen for a hoax like this.

Unfortunately no Triumph of the Will 3D

Now we can feel uncomfortable about the capacity for man’s inhumanity to man… in 3D.

From the Gurardian:

James Cameron and his team of minions may have produced the high watermark for 3D technology in the 21st century, but it seems the Nazis got there first. The Australian film-maker Philippe Mora says he has discovered two 30-minute 3D films shot by propagandists for the Third Reich in 1936, a full 16 years before the format first became briefly popular in the US.

The first of the films, titled So Real You Can Touch It, features shots of sizzling stereoscopic bratwursts on a barbecue while the second, named Six Girls Roll Into Weekend, features actors Mora believes were probably stars from Germany’s top wartime studio, Universum Film.[full article]

Film nerds/buffs can read the Variety article, which has a taste of the technical information.

Mora is working on a film, “How the Third Reich was Recorded.” As a one time history scholar, I’m a sucker for unsettling docs about Nazis. Not to be glib, but to me they’re creepier than zombie movies. Imagine the two combined.

My thanks goes out to whoever preserved these films and others like it. The best hedge against repeating terrible episodes of history is to record it and make it available, so people can bear witness to it. Oh, the power of libraries and archieves! </soapbox>

teen haze albumy thing

I listen to a lot of music at work. Frankly, when you’re scouring database records, you need something… or else you’d go a little go buggy.

Here’s my pic/fun discovery for this week: Teen Daze.

I’d describe them as somewhere between the Beach Boys and the Postal Service.

Listen to more at their CBC3 page!

Catcher in the Rye

NPR, the other day, had an interview with Kenneth Slawenski author of J.D. Salinger: A Life.


One revelation that is elaborated on throughout Slawenski’s erratic biography [Stirling says: Ouch.] is just how crucial Salinger’s World War II experiences were to his later Zen Buddhism, as well as to his writing. Salinger served in an Army Counter Intelligence Corps. On D-Day, he landed on Utah Beach, then went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge; toward the end of the war, he helped liberate a sub-camp of Dachau. According to Slawenski, manuscript pages of The Catcher in the Rye were on Salinger’s person throughout the fighting.[full article with audio!]

Crazy. One stray bullet and no Holden Caulfield! Generations of angst-ridden teens would’ve lost out. After all, there’s no Edward the Sulking Vampire without dear Mr. Caulfield.

Salinger fans would do well to check out Slawenski site: Dead Caulfields.

burning templars burn burn

My love of edu-TV melodrama meant I had to watch Museums Secrets the other night.

The show was on the Vatican Museum (cool in its own right and on my top list museums and libraries I need to see). I knew a lot of the stuff they talked about, except for their closing vignette about a recently rediscovered document apparently acquitting the Knights Templar from heresy charges.

From Reuters:

The parchment, also known as the Chinon Chart, was “misplaced” in the Vatican archives until 2001, when Frale stumbled across it.

“The parchment was catalogued incorrectly at some point in history. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was incredulous,” she said.

A CBC report places the shady entry in 1628, 320 years after the original trial.

Conspiracy? Maybe…

Read the rest of this entry »