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"No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library." ~Samuel Johnson

Is a library without books still a library? Newport Beach library is considering closing its original library and replacing it with a community center that would offer all the same features — except for the books.
posted by Fizz on Mar 31, 2011 - 81 comments

 

Look at all those books!

"The finished Strahov library panorama, released Tuesday on Martin’s website, is a zoomable, high-resolution peek inside one of Prague’s most beautiful halls, a repository of rare books that is usually off-limits to tourists... Martin’s panorama lets you examine the spines of the works in the Philosophical Hall’s 42,000 volumes, part of the monastery’s stunning collection of just about every important book available in central Europe at the end of the 18th century — more or less the sum total of human knowledge at the time."
posted by languagehat on Mar 30, 2011 - 24 comments

Unshelved.

Photos from all over Japan of libraries after the earthquake. (Via) [more inside]
posted by jardinier on Mar 29, 2011 - 10 comments

"Passion for place – there is no greater urge in feline nature."

Cat-Library™[SLYT].
posted by Fizz on Mar 25, 2011 - 28 comments

The site should smell like a musty book.

The US Library of Congress has updated their site to be more user friendly. Collections are now very easy to explore. All of the fun of wandering around a library without leaving your chair. [more inside]
posted by kensch on Mar 21, 2011 - 11 comments

Monsters & Madonnas.

Monsters & Madonnas. The International Centre of Photography Library Blog.
posted by chunking express on Mar 8, 2011 - 6 comments

don't stop too early, or you'll miss the awesomeness

Koalastothemax.com via the D3 JS library (data-driven DOM) a project of Mike Bostock. Thanks waxy.org
posted by gen on Mar 8, 2011 - 25 comments

And The iPod You Rode In On.

You wish you lived next door to Joe Bussard.
posted by timsteil on Feb 25, 2011 - 26 comments

One Language, Many Voices

Evolving English: The British Library's Evolving English exhibition runs until 3rd April but if you can't make it to London you can view the English language timeline, map your voice, or try this quiz on the website.
posted by Lezzles on Feb 8, 2011 - 12 comments

Books On Demand

The library system in Polk County, Florida has installed vending machines so that patrons who aren't close to a library can still check books out.
posted by reenum on Jan 31, 2011 - 49 comments

Iconographie ouvrages anciens

Iconographie ouvrages anciens is a collection of historic animal illustrations that date as far back as the 16th Century, courtesy of the library at Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Lyon. [more inside]
posted by Ufez Jones on Jan 26, 2011 - 10 comments

A silent protest

Stony Stratford, outside Milton Keynes, is facing the loss of its library as a result of crippling local budget cuts. Local residents weren't too happy about this, so they decided to take some books out. All 16,000 of them.
posted by dudekiller on Jan 15, 2011 - 72 comments

Sharing, Celebrating and Enhancing the World's Visual Language

The Noun Project collects, organizes and adds to the highly recognizable symbols that form the world's visual language, so they may be shared in a fun and meaningful way. The goal is to collect and organize all the symbols that form our language into one easy-to-use online library that can be accessed by anyone. All the symbols on their site are completely free to download, and can be used for design projects, architecture presentations, art pieces — just about anything.
posted by netbros on Jan 11, 2011 - 23 comments

Bon à tirer

Gallica (the digital section of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France) has put Charles Baudelaire's heavily annotated proofs of Les Fleurs du Mal on line.
posted by Lezzles on Jan 11, 2011 - 10 comments

Bibliotheca Corviniana

The library of King Matthias I of Hungary, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, was "the second greatest collection of books in Europe in the Renaissance period, after that of the Vatican." Destroyed following the 15th century Turkish invasion of Hungary (despite the efforts of Matthias' vassal Vlad III the Impaler), a few surviving codices have been digitized by the National Széchényi Library and the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. [more inside]
posted by Paragon on Jan 6, 2011 - 7 comments

Dewey's decimals keep me company

Library Girl by ReinaDelCid
posted by Toekneesan on Jan 3, 2011 - 42 comments

ALA Library Fact Sheet Number 22

The Nation's Largest Libraries: A Listing By Volumes Held of the top 100 libraries in the USA.
posted by jjray on Oct 11, 2010 - 31 comments

Thought Audio

Thought Audio is a small, simple and likable free library of classic literature and philosophy MP3 audio downloads.
posted by nickyskye on Sep 27, 2010 - 21 comments

Mediaeval Arabic Manuscripts in Private Libraries in Mauritania

Ancient books inherited in private family libraries could change our knowledge of late mediaeval arab culture, but most are hidden in private libraries. Gripping article about the unknown treasures that may be lurking in Mauritanian family libraries, considering the little that has already been found, resistance to cataloguing and problematic future if the region continues to be destabilised. How the manuscripts are famous in the muslim world.More on the open libraries and archive efforts. Some years back on bbc i saw an explorer track down some ancient ethiopian christian manuscripts to an ethiopian monastery, only to be shown some burnt remains from a fire a few months back. What treasures must lurk in this continent, and with digital cameras, how easy to document them without damage or intruding on their owners! Being christians, there are pictures and some history.
posted by maiamaia on Jul 27, 2010 - 13 comments

"They were not true, those dreams, those story books of youth..."

Dream Voices: Siegfried Sassoon, Memory and War: artifacts, manuscripts, and illustrations from the diaries and notebooks of the World War I poet, currently on display at Cambridge University Library (exhibition blog), with an accompanying Picasa gallery, and audio slideshow from the BBC.
posted by steef on Jul 24, 2010 - 8 comments

You wouldn't like librarians when they're angry...

FOX Chicago News runs a story that suggests closing down public libraries as a means of fixing the state's ongoing budget issues. The Public Library Commissioner responds.
posted by casarkos on Jul 2, 2010 - 77 comments

Old American Menus

Scans of early 20th-century American menus, courtesy of Colorado College's Tutt Library.
posted by Greg Nog on Jun 17, 2010 - 46 comments

Of course you realize this means war!

Libraries and commercial publishers have struggled with each other over the skyrocketing costs of academic journals for years. As costs have increased more rapidly than library budgets, the libraries have had to cut journal subscriptions and other acquisitions. The recent recession has necessitated further cuts. Against this backdrop, Nature Publishing Group told the University of California that next year subscription prices would increase 400 percent, with the average annual cost of a journal increasing to $17,479. UC Libraries fought back with a combative letter to UC faculty suggesting that faculty should consider boycotting the journals, and cease submitting or reviewing articles for these journals. NPG responds, saying that UC currently pays unfairly low rates, and that "individual scientists, both within and outside of California are already suffering as a result of [UC]'s unwarranted actions."
posted by grouse on Jun 10, 2010 - 62 comments

The answer is Ghostbusters II

When budget cuts are imminent...who you gonna call?. [more inside]
posted by djgh on May 19, 2010 - 40 comments

Passive Aggressive Library Signs

Passive Aggressive Library Signs Everyone loves librarians, don't they? In honor of National Library Week, here's a collection of threatening library signs. Librarians can be VICIOUS. Some librarians hate those signs more than you'd think: Ten Signs I Hope I Never See in Libraries Again. And just in case you missed them, Five Technically Legal Signs for Your Library if you worry about PATRIOT related issues.
posted by Blake on Apr 16, 2010 - 111 comments

LOC to acquire all public tweets

The Library of Congress will be archiving all public tweets ever published. They'll be doing this after a six-month delay. LOC announced this via Twitter first, naturally. Notable scholars consider some problems and open questions. [more inside]
posted by tarheelcoxn on Apr 14, 2010 - 83 comments

Teach the children, save the nation

A Nation Without School Librarians is a collaborative Google map showing eliminated school librarian positions. Across America libraries in general are facing reduced hours and closed branches due to budget problems. From Boston to Los Angeles, from Ohio to Florida. New Jersey, Brooklyn & West Virginia, to San Jose. Even as information shows that millions of Americans rely on libraries.
posted by cashman on Apr 6, 2010 - 41 comments

The Harvard Depository

Harvard University finished in 1986 construction of the Harvard Depository, a mysterious storage facility in a publicly undisclosed location 30 miles from campus where large tracts of land are less expensive than in Cambridge. While the facility was originally intended to store Harvard's least-used volumes, it is now home to 45 percent of Harvard's collections. David Lamberth, chair of the Library Implementation Work Group, calls it a "precise warehouse" for which the term "library" would prove inaccurate.
posted by stbalbach on Apr 2, 2010 - 45 comments

The first attempt at organizing all the world's information

Knowledge and Power in the Neo-Assyrian Empire may sound like a dry website, but its subject and content is fascinating. In the 7th Century BC King Assurbanipal of Assyria built a library that was to contain all the world's knowledge. Destroyed by the Medes in 612 BC, the library was not rediscovered until the 1840s. 28000 clay tablets written in Akkadian have been found. 1600 can be read online, all translated into English. It's a somewhat overwhelming amount, but there's a lovely highlights section, which even includes pictures of the pillow-shaped writing tablets. For a thorough overview, you can listen to the In Our Time episode about the Library of Nineveh. The most famous text to have been found in Nineveh is undoubtedly the Epic of Gilgamesh. The story of its decipherment and the controversies that ensued, is interesting in its own right.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 25, 2010 - 24 comments

Open Library has a new site

Open Library has a new collaborative open source website that aims to catalog every book ever published. About the project. The vision is one Wiki page for every edition of every work with description details.
posted by stbalbach on Mar 17, 2010 - 14 comments

Stolen Descartes letter found at Haverford by Dutch scholar's online detective work

A letter by Rene Descartes, stolen in 1840s, recovered in 2010 by online detective work. The letter was stolen by Guglielmo Libri, inspector general of the libraries of France, who stole thousands of valuable documents and fled to England in 1848. Since 1902 it's been in the collection of Haverford College, its contents unknown to scholars, and nobody there realized that it was an unknown letter. But because they had catalogued it and recently put their catalogue on line, Dutch philosopher Erik-Jan Bos found it "during a late-night session browsing the Internet". (A Haverford undergraduate thirty years ago had translated it and written a paper on it, in which he recognized that the letter was unknown -- but nobody followed up and the letter had sat in the library since then until it was listed online.) The letter includes some last-minute edits to the Meditations, and some thoughts on God as causa sui. Haverford, whose president was a philosophy major, is returning the letter to the Institut de France.
posted by LobsterMitten on Feb 26, 2010 - 21 comments

Warping Maps with NYPL

New York Public Library is crowdsourcing the rectification of maps in their digital gallery. Help match rare maps of NYC to more precise current maps, browse rectified maps, or lend a hand rectifying maps of Haiti to help relief efforts.
posted by exesforeyes on Feb 21, 2010 - 9 comments

Local Knowledge

In 2000, the Library of Congress celebrated its 200th birthday by inviting representatives and members of the public from each of the 50 American states to nominate folk traditions, local customs, and special places to a "century's-end time capsule" called the Local Legacies Project. A nice little introductory catalog to points of local pride, like Fountain Green, Utah's Lamb Day, Oakland, CA's Black Cowboy Parade, Kentucky's Bourbon tradition, and Binghamton, NY's Spiedie Fest, and plenty more. [more inside]
posted by Miko on Feb 5, 2010 - 7 comments

Eddies in the timestream! And this is his couch?

Timelines: Sources from History is a decade-by-decade visual index to the holdings of the British Library from the 1210s to the present.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 30, 2010 - 12 comments

Shhhhh!

10 Best Songs about Libraries and Librarians
posted by donajo on Jan 25, 2010 - 35 comments

Demons and Devotion

Visitors to the Morgan Library in New York will have a rare opportunity to view one of the great masterworks of medieval illumination, the Hours of Catherine of Cleves. But if you don't have a chance to visit, all 157 miniatures have been digitized.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 24, 2010 - 24 comments

All Tomorrow's Parties

Rock band reunions normally involve, at minimum, a little live music. But as The Velvet Underground are not your typical rock band, maybe none of us should have been surprised that the reunion of The Velvets at LIVE from the NYPL on Tuesday December 8th had none.
posted by Joe Beese on Dec 16, 2009 - 37 comments

Marin County Oral History

Marin County Oral History "From 1974 to 1984, Carla Ehat, with partner Anne Kent, and later Genevieve Martinelli, traveled from one end of Marin County [California] to the other, interviewing a broad spectrum of Marin's long-time residents, ranging from ranchers to politicians and including descendents of early pioneer families." Each link on the list includes a photo, bio, full text of the interview, and, the best part, short audio excerpts from the interviews. Many of the folks interviewed were born in the 1880s or 1890s.
posted by ocherdraco on Dec 6, 2009 - 7 comments

Pornsec Doubleplusungood!

When the Jessamine* County Public Library acquired a copy of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, two library workers conspired to keep it out of the patrons' hands, checking it out for an entire year. After an eleven-year-old girl put a hold on the book, they removed the hold; upon discovering this, the library director fired them. [more inside]
posted by Halloween Jack on Nov 19, 2009 - 150 comments

Book of the Month

Book of the Month is a feature that the University of Glasgow Library has been running for over a decade now. The format is simple, a single book is selected from their collections, written up and accompanied by pictures, maps and photographs scanned from the books. With over a 100 books to select from, it's hard to know where to start, but anywhere is good because they're all lovely. Still, here are a few, Charles Darwin's The Expression of the emotions in man and animals, a beautiful 15th century illuminated copy of Livy's Roman history, Treatises on Engines and Weapons, Valentines and Dabbities, The Birds of Australia, Facts and Observations on the Sanitary State of Glasgow, Ibn Jazla's The arrangement of bodies for treatment and finally, The Curious Case of Mary Toft, MetaFilter superstar.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 18, 2009 - 6 comments

"Biblioburro is a guy who comes on a donkey, he brings books."

Biblioburro is a library that schoolteacher Luis Soriano Bohorquez of La Gloria, a small town in northern Colombia, carries around on his donkeys Alfa and Beto. Another video of Biblioburro by Al Jazeera English. Here's some further footage in Spanish. [Biblioburro previously]
posted by Kattullus on Nov 8, 2009 - 12 comments

In this time of Blackwater and Glenn Beck, a more classic kind of villain still persists.

"I wanted that kid to lose sleep that night," a grinning Xinos says Wednesday, as he invites me for a nearly two-hour interview in his Mercedes-Benz in the gated Oak Brook community where he lives. "This is the real world and the lesson, you folks who brought your kids here, is if you want something, pay for it." [more inside]
posted by ignignokt on Oct 8, 2009 - 114 comments

Gay Liberation

1969: The Year of Gay Liberation is an online exhibit of the New York Public Library focusing on the radical gay rights movements of the late sixties and early seventies, focusing on the organizations The Mattachine Society of New York, Daughters of Bilitis, Gay News, Gay Liberation Front, Radicalesbians, Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries and the Gay Activists Alliance, and the events of the Stonewall Riot and Christopher Street Liberation Day. This is but one part of the NYPL's fine LGBT collection, which includes, among other things, resources for teens, AIDS/HIV collections, and digital collections on ACT UP, Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen, Bessie Bonehill, Gertrude Stein, Gran Fury, Julian Eltinge, Richard Wandel and Walt Whitman.
posted by Kattullus on Oct 1, 2009 - 14 comments

The fascinating world of conservation

Biohistorical researchWax engravingThe Thinker after the bombAlfred Stieglitz's palladium photographsTibetan bronzes with interior contentsThe examination and treatment of a pair of boots from the Aleutian Islands — A small sample of the articles available from the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation (JAIC).
posted by tellurian on Sep 22, 2009 - 8 comments

What's a city without a public library?

As part of what Mayor Michael Nutter has dubbed the "Plan C" budget, the Free Library of Philadelphia (the Pennsylvania city's public library system), chartered in 1891, will close all its branches and cease all services October 2, 2009, unless measures to raise sales tax and delay some pension payments are approved by the State Legislature in Harrisburg. The closing could be a huge blow for a city whose most famous citizen, Benjamin Franklin, founded The Library Company of Philadelphia, the United States' first successful lending library, there in 1731. [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco on Sep 11, 2009 - 99 comments

bookless library

"When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books," said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus. Instead of a library, the academy is spending nearly $500,000 to create a learning center. Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine.
posted by tamarack on Sep 4, 2009 - 129 comments

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.

"Then there are the classification errors, which taken together can make for a kind of absurdist poetry. H.L. Mencken's The American Language is classified as Family & Relationships. A French edition of Hamlet and a Japanese edition of Madame Bovary are both classified as Antiques and Collectibles (a 1930 English edition of Flaubert's novel is classified under Physicians, which I suppose makes a bit more sense.) An edition of Moby Dick is labeled Computers; The Cat Lover's Book of Fascinating Facts falls under Technology & Engineering. And a catalog of copyright entries from the Library of Congress is listed under Drama (for a moment I wondered if maybe that one was just Google's little joke)." —Linguist Geoffrey Nunberg on Google's little metadata problem.
posted by Toekneesan on Sep 1, 2009 - 29 comments

Library eBooks Have Arrived!

Wow. I was going to say something witty and clever, and I got nothin, so: "The new Web-based Sony Library Finder tool can be used to find e-books in the local library that can be checked out, downloaded onto a desktop computer and then loaded onto a Sony Reader device -- all without charge." [Note - Probably USian] [more inside]
posted by ZakDaddy on Aug 26, 2009 - 62 comments

Keeping us safe from racist literature

The Brooklyn Public Library reshelves a children's book—behind locked steel doors
posted by Toekneesan on Aug 20, 2009 - 78 comments

Constipation is murder! and other gems from early advertising of the West

The University of Washington Library's Early Advertising of the West, 1867-1918. [more inside]
posted by mudpuppie on Aug 12, 2009 - 24 comments

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