Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Old Dictionaries

An interesting article in the New York Times Magazine by Ammon Shea on old dictionaries.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lorcan Dempsey's weblog

Lorcan makes some comments on work done here at the U. The report is, most definitely, worth a look.

Lorcan Dempsey's weblog

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Harvard Acquires Updike

Good news for those interested in Updike.

MinnPost - Broadband connectivity is a big issue in rural and remote parts of Minnesota

You can't have Web 2.0 without good access to the 'Net. Here's a story that came across my desk this morning.

MinnPost - Broadband connectivity is a big issue in rural and remote parts of Minnesota

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Rare Books on front page of the MN Daily

A nice article that appeared in today's Daily. My thanks to Luke Feuerherm and photographer Marija Majerle for the coverage.

University’s rare book collection held deep underground

One of the nation’s most unique collections of rare books is preserved and available on campus.

Library curator Tim Johnson points out archived books Tuesday in the Elmer L. Andersen Library. Comprised of nearly 3 million volumes, the library is home to one of the world's foremost rare book collections.

Published: 10/06/2009
By Luke Feuerherm

When searching for rare art on campus, most turn to the aesthetic grandeur of the East Bank’s Weisman Art Museum. However, some of the University of Minnesota’s rarest art lies buried beneath 90 feet of shale and limestone across the Mississippi River.

Elmer L. Andersen Library is home to one of the world’s foremost rare book collections, containing 120 special collections and additional archives that make up nearly 3 million volumes in total, including Andersen’s vast personal collection.

“Our Sherlock Holmes collection is one of the largest, if not the largest in the world,” said Kris Kiesling, director of archives and special collections at the University libraries.

The volumes are held in two main caverns that protect them from four major threats: temperature, humidity, dust and light. This protection includes filtered ventilation, low-flow fire sprinklers, pressurized halls and chemical detectors used to discern fires before they happen.

While these intricate caverns are closed to the general public, their rare treasures are not. Reading rooms are available during library hours where library workers access the rare collections to retrieve works upon request.

“There’s just something that happens to you when you hold a book that’s over 500 years old,” library curator Tim Johnson said.

The University library system is North America’s 15th largest research library and assists the University in its status as a research university.

“There’s just no way to get across its value in any type of virtual mode. It has an artistic value; it has a tactile value,” said graduate instructor Kevin Mummey, who recently took his students to the library to view 3,000-year-old stone tablets.

“Our hope is that the collections support the research our students do,’” Johnson said.

The collection stands as a valuable supply of primary sources on campus.

“We get a lot of students using the collection in a variety of ways. We probably see between 800 and 1,000 students in the course of an academic year, either through class presentations or working on papers or projects using the collection,” said Marguerite Ragnow , library resources advisor for graduate students.

In addition to research, the library’s collection also stands as a preservation of the art of literature. The value of the rare books extends beyond simply information.

“It’s not just the text in the book but the creator and the art,” said Johnson. His favorite pieces in the collection include “The Kelmscott Chaucer,” regarded by some as the most beautiful book in the world, and a Sherlock Holmes novel that once belonged to Tsaritsa Alexandra of Russia.

The thick stone that encases the rows of rare literature is in place to protect them from their environment, not shield them from the public, for which they are open to daily upon request.

Go Twins!!

Like politics, there won't be many times when I interject my enjoyment of certain sports and teams into this blog, but I can't resist the opportunity to hype my Minnesota Twins. Last night's game against the Detroit Tigers was, truly, one for the ages. I've seen many games in my life and this one has to rank near the top. To use the cliché, both teams left it all on the field. This game is full of highlights and I hope the Twins or somebody in Major League Baseball puts that game on a DVD and offers it for sale. I'd buy a copy in an instant.

I don't know what to expect in the Twins-Yankees series. Its only a best of five series, so there's not a lot of room for mistakes, but I think the Twins will surprise a lot of folks. They've been full of surprises all year; their run through the final stretch of the regular season was an amazing thing to watch (or listen to on the radio, for those of us without cable television).

Every year, come about the time of Spring training, I pull out my vhs recordings of the 1987 and 1991 World Series games, in anticipation of the coming baseball season. Next year maybe I'll have one more game to watch as I get ready for the Twins and a whole new adventure in their new outdoor stadium.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Book TV: Allison Bartlett

Book TV on C-Span has this program related to "The Man Who Loved Books Too Much." The blurb for the show reads: "Allison Bartlett talks about John Charles Gilkey, a rare book thief who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of books, and the rare book dealer who tracked him down and brought him to justice. She spoke at The Booksmith in San Francisco."

Presidential Proclamation

I'm not always sure of what to make of proclamations from official sources, but this one is probably worth noting.

What struck me most is the following: "Over the past decade, we have seen a crisis of authenticity emerge. We now live in a world where anyone can publish an opinion or perspective, whether true or not, and have that opinion amplified within the information marketplace."

Part of what we're about is helping create an informed citizenry. Critical thinking skills and the broad perspective of a liberal arts education are important components to an authentic, civic conversation.

Here's an overview of our own program at the U of M.

From the daily feeds

A couple of things to note from the daily reading of rss feeds:

A review in the NY Times of THE MAN WHO LOVED BOOKS TOO MUCH: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession. By Allison Hoover Bartlett, 274 pp. Riverhead Books. $24.95

An essay by Lewis Hyde, also in the NY Times, on Google, copyright and orphan works.

An obituary of Reinhard Mohn "the entrepreneur who transformed Bertelsmann from a provincial, war-shattered German publisher into a global media giant..."

A report on the New York Art Book Fair

And, from Kevin Driedger's blog, a link to the University of Florida and the inclusion of zombie attacks in their disaster preparedness plan.

Friday, October 2, 2009

ResearchChannel - Libraries, Coffee & Surfing

I haven't had a chance to view this yet, but wanted to pin it to my blog in case anyone else is interested in viewing.

ResearchChannel - Libraries, Coffee & Surfing

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Fitzgerald at the Ransom Center

This interesting press release came across my Google Reader on the acquisition of F. Scott Fitzgerald material by the Ransom Center. The last two sentences caught my eye: "The materials will be accessible once organized and housed. High-resolution press images of a selection of the new materials are available."

Which made me wonder about work-flows and processing. I think its very interesting--and smart--that digital images of some of the materials are already available, even though the collection is not yet fully processed. This will help with additional publicity and give folks a sense of what's there. But it is a double-edged sword. Advance PR may mean phone calls and e-mails about access to the full collection. Does this speed up the processing? Does the collection skip to the front of the processing line? Or, if "more product, less process" is in play maybe its not an issue. In any event, I find it interesting that some digitization of materials appears to happen towards the front end of the process.

MinnPost - New alcohol problem for schools: hand sanitizers

The morning reading continues. Like many institutions, the U is actively promoting safe workplaces and plenty of briefings on H1N1 flu. We now have wipes (for keyboards and mice) and hand sanitizers at all of our main work stations. Signs recently appeared in the restrooms instructing us on good hand-washing technique. (Can you count to 20 or sing "Happy Birthday" real slow to make sure you've allowed the soap and hot water to do its thing?) We're developing decision trees and scenarios for "mission critical" conditions in the event of a larger outbreak. Interestingly, the Libraries are not considered "mission critical" in the event the University closes due to the flu.

At the first flu clinic to receive a "regular" flu shot, the line took 45 minutes to snake its way to the awaiting needle. I was there and am now vaccinated. But because of the popularity (or hysteria?) supplies of the vaccine ran low and later clinics were postponed. I'm wondering what it will be like when the H1N1 vaccine becomes available later this month. Masks were available while we were standing in line for those who felt the need, but they haven't shown up yet at our workstations.

This could be a very interesting flu season. So what's it like at your library?

MinnPost - New alcohol problem for schools: hand sanitizers

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Student Blogs

Here's another interesting article from the NY Times on student blogs. For those of you interested in blogs at the University of Minnesota, check out this link to UThink.

MinnPost - Book Club Club: Where are the men? Part 2

I'm pondering what the next steps might be for this blog and how I might share things I come across. So I'm playing around. Here's an article that I came across this morning during my daily reading from rss feeds.

MinnPost - Book Club Club: Where are the men? Part 2

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