Welcome to a tumblr of wonders. Special Collections, archives, and libraries have many wonderful items, but getting to them all can be a bit like trying to walk into Mordor, unless you have unlimited time and grants. But now, thanks to Tumblr, you too can explore collections around the world, and one of the best comes to us from the University of Iowa. Want a Hamlet quote on a miniature book that unfolds into a tiny Globe Theatre? Of course you do. Actual flying squirrels? Adventure with Alice! Get close to illuminations? Catch a glimpse of hipster frames circa 1504? More awesome librar* tumblrs inside. [more inside]
UC Santa Cruz announced today the launch of the Grateful Dead Archive Online. It contains over 25,000 digitized items - posters & photographs, audio & video, t-shirts, envelope art... you can even contribute your own content.
For more than two years, scholars and imaging scientists have been using advanced scanning techniques to recover the mostly illegible contents of an 1871 field diary kept by the British explorer David Livingstone in Africa. Low on paper and ink, the explorer had resorted to writing on newspaper sheets, with ink made from berries, and over time the original document had become almost impossible to read. Now the team has unveiled an online “multispectral critical edition” with images, transcriptions, and relevant notes, making Livingstone’s first-person account accessible again. They’ve also created a “Livingstone Spectral Images Archive” to give anyone who wants it direct access to the images, transcriptions, and metadata the project has created, no strings attached. Almost everything in both the edition and the archive comes with a Creative Commons license that allows the contents to be reused with attribution. [more inside]
The diaries of Queen Victoria, totaling 47,000 pages and running from the age of 13 until her death, have been digitized. The site will be free to UK users, but open access for the rest of the world only runs through the end of June.
Bill Blackbeard, founder of the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art, passed away March 10. The Comics Journal calls him "without question or quibble the only absolutely indispensable figure in the history of comics scholarship for the last quarter century." [more inside]
To mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inauguration, the JFK Library has unveiled a new digital archive containing 200,000 pages; 300 reels of audio tape, containing more than 1,245 individual recordings of telephone calls, speeches and meetings; 300 museum artifacts; 72 reels of film; and 1,500 photos.
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.
Cologne City Archive is a six-story building containing 26 kilometers of shelves, 65,000+ documents dating from 922 AD, 104,000 maps, 50,000 posters, 500,000 photographs and 780 estates and collections, including Irmgard Keun, Hans Mayer and Jacques Offenbach. Considered a state of the art institution when built in 1971 and copied around the world, the building simply collapsed on Tuesday, destroying most everything. ,(via) [more inside]
Europeana is the new EU digital library. It gives multilingual access to two million digitized books and other items of cultural and historical significance held in over 1,000 institutions in the 27 EU states. There will be 10 million by 2010. Soon after its launch the website froze, its servers overwhelmed by over "10 million hits an hour".
OPAL Libri Antichi from the University of Turin offers over 3,000 books as free, open PDF files. Most of these date between AD 1500 and 1850 and most are in Italian, with many in French. They tend to be plain books with few illustrations. A few English titles are present, including David Hume's 1800 Essays on Suicide and the Immortality of the Soul; several texts by William Wycherley such as Love in a wood: or St. James's-Park (1735); and Richard Lassels 1686 work The voyage of Italy: or, a compleat journey through Italy with the characters of the peaple, and the description of the chief towns ... (volume 2) - an early travel guide. The PDFs are unsearchable plain scans. via this thread in the W4RF forum which contains hundreds of links to free online historical documents
"Bill Blackbeard is a writer-editor and the founder-director of the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art, a comprehensive collection of comic strips and cartoon art from American newspapers. This major collection, consisting of 2.5 million clippings, tearsheets and comic sections, [spans] the years 1894 to 1996... [more inside]
Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web. Many links to interesting sites - African liberation movement posters, Charles Babbage, Braniff Airways history, daily life in Sierra Leone 1936-37, the photography of Eamon Melaugh, Frank & Marshall College from the air, all the way through to ZYX: a selection of ABC books. Via thinking while typing.
Paper of Record provides a hi-res, searchable(!), archive of historical newspapers, generated from microfilm collections. Looks like one for Cory at Wrote['nother couple of similar links there]. Kind of new and largely Canadian at the moment, but worth watching, and subscriptions are cheap. Remember, those are Canadian dollars.
Save the papers? Nicholson Baker, in his new book Double Fold, tries to convince libraries and anyone else who will listen that we need to keep original newspapers to preserve the historical record. He's even started the nonprofit American Newspaper Repository so that libraries would sell their old papers to him.