Before Pinterest and Evernote and Tumblr, there was the humble commonplace book, a space for gathering and reflecting on ideas, quotations, observations, lines from poems, and other information. "How and Why to Keep a Commonplace Book" is a brief introduction to a venerable tradition of idea curation. [more inside]
"StoryCorps is an oral history project that has collected 65,000 stories from 100,000 participants since 2003 using sound booths and mobile studios. However, with the newly developed StoryCorps mobile app, the booth is no longer needed. Now anyone with a mobile phone can record an interview and upload the audio to the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress." [more inside]
On September 30th, OCLC ended support for Accessions List and Catalog Cards. What does this mean? It means they will no longer be supplying such cards to libraries, special collections and information filers. Partially filling the gap are suppliers of blank cards e.g.   . Also, books about cards.
From A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible to Our Bodies, Ourselves. In 2012 the United States Library of Congress held an exhibition on what it saw as the most influential books in American history. (via) [more inside]
Giovanni Battista d'Antonio Braccelli was a Florentine artist (PDF*) who was active from 1616 to 1649, and is little known beyond some highly creative works. Finding details on his life can be more difficult due to multiple forms for his names (Giovanbatista, Bracelli, Braccielli, Brazzè, and the nickname "il Bigio" - the gray one) within his own work and secondary sources, and early writers conflated his biography with that of a Genoese painter of the same name. But if you enjoy surreal illustrations, check out Braccelli's Bizzarie di varie figure (online view from Gallica - Bibliothèque nationale de France; online and PDF in the US Library of Congress collection** from Lessing J. Rosenwald). [more inside]
The National Recording Preservation Board was mandated by the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, but it didn't have a preservation plan in place to address saving everything from the oldest tin foil recordings (prev) to recent "born digital" creations. That changed with the National Recording Preservation Plan (full 89 page PDF). Except, "the recording preservation provisions under current law are so restrictive you literally can't make — legally — a digital copy of an older analog recording without permissions which are very hard to get" (NPR). [more inside]
The Library of Congress posted a Jan 2013 update on its mission to archive public tweets, announced back in April 2010 (previously). 170 billion tweets so far, adding more than .5 billion per day. Search for a term? Prepare to wait ~24 hours. [more inside]
Ehrich Weisz may not have had much formal education, but he grew up to be Harry Houdini, self-educated stunt performer, escape artist, and owner of "one of the largest libraries in the world on psychic phenomena, Spiritualism, magic, witchcraft, demonology, evil spirits, etc., some of the material going back as far as 1489." Houdini bequeathed much of his collection to the Library of Congress, which received 3,988 volumes from his collection in 1927, including a number of magic books inscribed or annotated by well-known magicians. Archive.org has more of the Harry Houdini Collection online. He also put a great deal of research into his tricks, as seen in his letter to Dr. W. J. McConnell, a physiologist at the U.S. Bureau of Mines, written up after Houdini's watery grave stunt in 1926.
Kevin J. Weir is an artist, making ads (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), and more interestingly, not ads. In the latter category, he has made 3 stand-alone sites: the Flux Machine, a tumblr of public domain images turned into animated GIFs, ranging from amusing to surreal (with an extra dash of Lovecraft), which Cartoon Brew likened to Terry Gilliam and Stan VanDerBeek; Nyan Waits, another spin-off of the Nyan Cat meme/theme, now with more Tom Waits; and Loud Portraits, an interactive portrait gallery. [more inside]
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]
"A Series of Statistical Charts, Illustrating The Condition of the Descendants of Former African Slaves Now Resident In the United States of America." (HQ Library of Congress links.) W.E.B. DuBois : "I wanted to set down its aim and method in some outstanding way which would bring my work to the notice of the thinking world. The great World's Fair at Paris was being planned and I thought I might put my findings into plans, charts and figures, so one might see what we were trying to accomplish." [more inside]
Since at least Wednesday, there's been a Cooper's Hawk in the Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress. It has has adopted the ornate 160ft high dome as its aerie. [more inside]
America at Work, America at Leisure - "Work, school, and leisure activities in the United States from 1894 to 1915 are featured in this presentation of 150 motion pictures." [Library of Congress Youtube playlist]
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]
Music and the Brain The Library of Congress' Music and the Brain podcasts offer lectures and conversations about new research at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and music. Sufi rituals, Wednesday is Indigo Blue (synaesthesia), Your Brain on Jazz, The Music of Language and the Language of Music, and more.
"If I thought, had any idea, that I’d ever be a slave again, I’d take a gun and just end it all right away." Audio recordings from interviews with former slaves, conducted by WPA folklorists and others, including the Lomaxes and Zora Neale Hurston. Only these twenty-six audio recordings of people formerly enslaved in the antebellum American South have ever been found.
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]
Certain clues seem to indicate that we may be facing a second depression. But what would another Depression mean in literary terms? Would it produce a second 'Gatsby'? While circumstances might be different this time around, perhaps it's worth revisiting some of the experiences of some who lived and wrote through the first Great Depression.
Inauguration 2009 Sermons and Orations Project The Library of Congress invites you to submit digital audio or video recordings of speeches made between January 16 and january 25, 2009 on the occasion of Barack Obama's inauguration. The speeches will be archived in a collection for future scholarship, much like the Day of Infamyand other collections capturing signifcant American moments.
"New Deal Programs: Selected Library of Congress Resources was created to serve as a starting point for research using Library of Congress collections of New Deal program materials." Includes links to numerous collections of digitized materials, including photos, posters, music, manuscripts and more. [more inside]
The Library of Congress has unveiled a baseball history section on their website. You can see old baesball cards, panoramic shots, a section for teachers and, coolest of all, a video of a baseball game shot by Thomas Edison in 1898.
Webcasts from the Library of Congress. Hundreds of recent public programs from the Library of Congress, from Indian Religious Freedom, to Litigate or Legislate? to End of European Colonial Empires, to Robert E. Lee, to 1507 Waldseemuller World Map. Other topics include Performing Arts, Education, Government, World Affairs, Literature, Religion and Science. [more inside]
"New" photos emerge of Lincoln's second inauguration The Library of Congress has discovered new photographs taken in 1865 at Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration. For years they were filed under President Grant's archive, mislabeled into obscurity. Incidentally, this week will be the grand opening of Lincoln's summer "cottage" in northwest DC.
The Library of Congress has competed its annual selection of 50 sound recordings for the 2005 National Recording Registry. Nominations are being accepted for 2006.
Playboy in Braille. Yep, since 1970, the Library of Congress has offered Playboy among their Braille conversion services. Of course, none of the images are converted, it's just for the articles. [via coolhunting]
The latest additions to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress have just been announced. This year's additions of "culturally, historically or aesthetically important" works include "Swanee'" by Al Jolson, Edward R. Murrow's radio reports from London during WWII, and "Fear of a Black Planet" by Public Enemy. View the full registry here, selection criteria and nomination information here.
Geographical fun: being humourous outlines of various countries, with an introduction and descriptive lines.
"The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!" Who says 'Murricans are insular and self-absorbed?! Okay, everybody, but everybody's wrong. Proof positive? The absolutely last and final word that'll make everybody believe we really do care about their mangy foreign butts? The fact that the Library of Congress has a wonderful site called A World of Books: Annotated Surveys of Noteworthy Books from Around the Globe, devoted to "some of the most important and interesting books published abroad that an American public may have overlooked. The results provide a fascinating insight about other peoples and cultures." It's good times.