Do you care about Librarians, Archivists or Museologists? - Mr. Wilson shows you why you DO care.
December 2, 2009 9:32 PM   Subscribe

The Smithsonian Libraries hark back to the ideas of Mr. James Smithson, the benefactor after whom the Smithsonian is named. Mr. Smithson, an English scientist, never set foot in this country, but was enamored of our nation’s independence and the way science and discovery were becoming part of our national ethic, particularly through the work of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. During his lifetime, Mr. Smithson built up a large collection of books and documents and obviously appreciated the value of libraries. He left his fortune and his book and document collection to our nation to create an institution for the “diffusion and increase of learning” in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian was authorized by Congress in 1846 and from its outset it made provisions for a library to hold its growing collection of documents and books.
- From the Keynote Remarks: 
An Age of Discovery: Distinctive Collections in the Digital Age 
G. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
recently the ARL (Association of Research Libraries) and the CNI (Coalition for Networked Information) had their fall forum.

The Smithsonian was authorized by Congress in 1846 and from its outset it made provisions for a library to hold its growing collection of documents and books.

Ultimately, we want to put all of our 137 million objects on a thumb drive and online so you can access them wherever you live. The Smithsonian has long reached millions through the public portals of its museums and its national outreach with our traveling exhibits and loans of collections through our museum affiliations initiative, but soon we can reach billions, among them boys and girls growing up in places like my hometown of Douglas, Ga. We also plan to use our collections and experts in a more formal way to help the K-12 education system in this country. Nearly 30 million people from across the country and around the world came to the Smithsonian during the past year, but we can reach billions in the future using the Web.
Today the Smithsonian Libraries form the most comprehensive museum library system in the world with 1.6 million volumes and a vast array of documents and digital images. The libraries hold 25,000 rare books that specialize in natural history and sciences. We also are a partner in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which is a group of 10 major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries and research institutions that are working together to digitize the principle natural history collections.
G. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution (Program Session 5)
pdf of talk, read for an example of taking a prepared text, and bringing it to life (aka, a lesson in the value of multimedia recording archives of our present, for the future.)

Ian E. Wilson is the Chief Librarian and Archivist of Canada Emeritus, having retired from that position in April 2009. Named to this role in 2004, he had previously (as of July 1999) been National Archivist of Canada. With Roch Carrier, the then National Librarian, he developed and led the process to link the National Archive and National Library as a unified institution. Since retiring from LAC, he has taken on the role of Strategic Advisor for the University of Waterloo to establish the Stratford Institute. This initiative is devoted to graduate studies and advanced research in digital media. Throughout his distinguished career, he has worked diligently to make archives accessible and interesting to a wide range of audiences. He has helped safeguard the integrity of archival records while at the same time encouraging an active use of them by the public. In addition, he has published extensively on history, archives, heritage, and information management and has lectured both nationally and abroad. He currently serves as President of the International Council on Archives, a professional organization for the world archival community, dedicated to promoting the preservation, development, and use of the world’s archival heritage.
lots going on at collections Canada…
social tagging. and crafting an Audiovisual Migration Strategy. dealing with 530,000 hours of audio and video(!!!)
(Professor Wilson's response to the keynote speaker very much follows the maxim "underpromise, overdeliver". Program Session 5 3/4 of the page down.)

Alice Prochaska
Alice Prochaska has been University Librarian at Yale since August 2001. She received both her BA and PhD (D.Phil.) in Modern History from the University of Oxford. From 1984 to 1992 she was the administrator and deputy to the director of the University of London’s Institute of Historical Research. In 1992, she became Director of Special Collections at the British Library, with responsibility for the UK national collections of Maps, Manuscripts, Music, the National Sound Archive, the Oriental and India Office Collections, and Philatelic Collections. She has served on various national bodies in the UK and North America. She currently chairs ARL’s Special Collections Working Group, and is immediate past chair of the Board of the Center for Research Libraries. She lectures regularly in North America, the UK, and Europe, and was formerly chair of the International Federation of Library Associations section on Rare Books and Manuscripts. Her publications include books and articles on history, archives, and library-related issues. Last June she announced plans to depart from Yale and take up the position of Principal of Somerville College, one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. -Alice Prochaska responds to the keynote remarks by 
G. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Program Session 5; 3/4 down the page.
posted by infinite intimation (6 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite


If digital materials would enhance a special collection and fit within the scope of the collection it would be a disservice to the users not to include digital items.
Archaeologists study human cultures through the recovery, documentation and analysis of cultural and environmental data, including architecture, artifacts, biofacts, human remains, and landscapes. The goals of archaeology are to document and explain the origins and development of human culture, culture history, cultural evolution, and human behaviour and ecology.
Librarians, museologists and archivists ensure that what we create TODAY is there as data for tomorrow's archaeologists to uncover and try to interpret (Professor Wilson suggests that we can help out these people TOMORROW, by documenting, archiving, and sharing things well TODAY.


"And tomorrow, and this is why I think I have one of the more
interesting jobs in the nation’s capital, I am going to be able to look at an incredible specimen—a newly discovered species—a giant three-foot rat that our scientists discovered in New Guinea.
Turns out the rat likes to be petted and sit in your lap." -
G. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution keynote address.

(seems true... but then you read this... and think; reality... so much more beautiful and awesome than fantasy.)
posted by infinite intimation at 9:33 PM on December 2, 2009

Awesome post. I just applied for an internship at the Smithsonian so fingers crossed.
posted by Allan Gordon at 10:09 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can haz Smithsonian thumbdrive?

Good luck Allan Gordon. I envy you.
posted by irisclara at 11:42 PM on December 2, 2009

Say there, infinite intimation, did you really tl;dr your own post?
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:51 PM on December 2, 2009

Anyone know if there is any substance to the rumor that Smithson gave of his collections to the US because he was never accepted as "a gentleman" in England, never allowed into the higher stratus of society no matter his vast accomplishments, thus loathed the class/caste system there, and loved the lack of same here stateside?

I'm not even sure where I read it, it's been years, and yeah, it's zinging off topic maybe, though it's in the neighborhood...

One hell of a post but WAY tl;dr
posted by dancestoblue at 12:09 AM on December 3, 2009

dancesblue, we will probably never know James Smithson's motives for leaving his money to the US, especially since most of his papers and other collections were lost in a fire at the Smithsonian in 1865. Here is the Smithsonian on Smithson and his bequest. They list some possible motives for the bequest in the Conclusion section.
posted by gudrun at 12:20 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

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