Monday, July 24, 2017

The Library of Congress opened its catalogs to the world. Here’s why it matters

Library of Congress | Online catalog | Research


BY  
library of congress
The Library of Congress has made 25 million digital catalog records available for anyone at no charge. Photo by Flickr user casajump

Imagine you wanted to find books or journal articles on a particular subject. Or find manuscripts by a particular author. Or locate serials, music or maps. You would use a library catalog that includes facts – like title, author, publication date, subject headings and genre.

That information and more is stored in the treasure trove of library catalogs.

It is hard to overstate how important this library catalog information is, particularly  as the amount of information expands every day. With this information, scholars and librarians are able to find things in a predictable way. That’s because of the descriptive facts presented in a systematic way in catalog records.

But what if you could also experiment with the data in those records to explore other kinds of research questions – like trends in subject matter, semantics in titles or patterns in the geographic source of works on a given topic?

Now it is possible. The Library of Congress has made 25 million digital catalog records available for anyone to use at no charge. The free data set includes records from 1968 to 2014. Read more...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Want to Raise Your Child to Love Reading? Read These Secrets

Children's books | Literacy | Reading


A class at Public School 682, the Academy of Talented Scholars, in Brooklyn. Credit Joshua Bright for The New York Times

“You’re the children’s books editor?” Someone has said this to me, usually with a smile, at least once a week in the almost three years I’ve been at The New York Times. “What a cool job!” is the subtext. But lurking in the background are almost always other questions, sometimes more pressing ones about kids’ reading in general. “What should my second grader be reading?” a colleague asked the other day, adding, “She’s obsessed with the books in that series with the different flower fairies, and I can’t get her interested in anything else.” A neighbor recently approached me with a worried look and said, “My 10-year-old will only read graphic novels. What should I do?”

Clearly, there’s a lot of uncertainty out there among parents when it comes to children’s books, and also an earnest desire to make the right choices and do the right thing. Parents realize the stakes are high, and childhood passes quickly.

So when the Guides team approached Pamela Paul, the editor of the Book Review, about writing a guide to raising readers, and she asked if I was interested, I jumped at the chance. (Find it here.)

Much of what I do every day is sift through new books, deciding which ones we should assign for review, or which ones might make for a good feature story. I try to balance for different ages, different genres and books by authors from a variety of backgrounds. There’s always the thrill of discovering a book I can’t wait to tell our readers about. Read more...

Virtual reality and smoothie bars: What’s in at Bay Area university libraries?

Academic Libraries | Library Design | User Experience

College students still need help finding and interpreting information.

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:
Rodrigo Gris, a summer session student from Spain studying art history, works in one of the new study carrels in Moffitt Library at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif. on Thursday, July 6, 2017. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)
Librarians at UC Berkeley are holding workshops for students on what to do with the information they collect using drones. At Stanford, they’re experimenting with virtual reality. And across the Bay Area, as more textbooks gather dust and coursework moves online, universities are reimagining their libraries.

“We’re like fish,” said Sonoma State University librarian Karen Schneider. “If we don’t keep swimming, we die.” 

University libraries used to warehouse knowledge, but they’re places where it’s created now. And that, students and school officials say, makes them more relevant than ever.

Numbers back up that notion. While book circulation is down at each of the libraries the Bay Area News Group surveyed, the number of students using library space is up.

Librarians say students are looking for places where they can take the work they do individually online and use it to collaborate as part of a team in the real world.

“The digital age has actually raised the importance of spaces for people to actually come together,” said Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, Cal’s librarian and chief digital scholarship officer. Read more...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Over 83,500 Vintage Sewing Patterns Are Now Available Online

Design | Archives | Digital Humanities

By Jessica Stewart | July 3, 2017


McCall's, Butterick, Simplicity. If you were into sewing, or simply spent time as a child rummaging through patterns with your mother at the fabric store, these names will bring on a wave of nostalgia. And now, thanks to a fantastic online collection of vintage sewing patterns, it's time to dust of your sewing machine.

The Vintage Patterns Wiki boasts more than 83,500 patterns that are at least 25 years old, which makes for a fascinating look back at fashion history. As a collaborative effort, the database is constantly being updated and organized, with any newly uploaded patterns dating prior to 1992. Just click on the cover and browse the list of pattern vendors who have the look. Read more...http://mymodernmet.com/free-vintage-sewing-patterns/

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Librarian Who Guarded the Manhattan Project’s Secrets

Science libraries | Research libraries | World War II

 The residents of Los Alamos, New Mexico—a town that wasn’t supposed to exist—lived in a viscous state of secrecy during World War II. To disguise the existence of the nuclear bomb being built there, the group of Manhattan Project scientists, security personnel, and families needed to consider and reconsider their every move. They couldn’t leave “the Hill,” as Los Alamos was known, without required passes. Their mail reached New Mexico through a series of forwarding addresses set up across the United States, arriving in a P.O. box 20 miles away in Santa Fe. Food was purchased from a single commissary; a trip to Santa Fe was “a major event.” Read more...


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

22 Ambassadors Recommend the One Book to Read Before Visiting Their Country

Travel | Literature from other Cultures | Reader's Advisory

 
Preparing for a visit to a foreign country can often be overwhelming, with no shortage of things to learn before you go. Where should you eat? Where should you stay? What do you tip? More so than this service information, though, is a sense of cultural understanding that's hard to put your finger on. With this in mind, language learning app Babbel asked foreign ambassadors to the U.S. to pick the book they believe first-time visitors to their country should read before they arrive. Their answers may surprise you.


The Tobacconist (translated into English by Charlotte Collins) is set in 1937 just before the German occupation. It follows 17-year-old Franz, who moves to Vienna to become the apprentice in a tobacco shop. Its quiet wisdom and sincerity resonated with me very deeply." —H.E. Wolfgang A. Waldner


Note: "H.E." stands for His or Her Excellency, the official title for ambassadors to the U.S.

Read more...

Monday, June 26, 2017

Enter an Archive of 6,000 Historical Children’s Books, All Digitized and Free to Read Online

Archives | Books | e-books | Children's literature

August 30, 2016


We can learn much about how a historical period viewed the abilities of its children by studying its children's literature. Occupying a space somewhere between the purely didactic and the nonsensical, most children’s books published in the past few hundred years have attempted to find a line between the two poles, seeking a balance between entertainment and instruction. However, that line seems to move closer to one pole or another depending on the prevailing cultural sentiments of the time. And the very fact that children’s books were hardly published at all before the early 18th century tells us a lot about when and how modern ideas of childhood as a separate category of existence began. Read more...

How Adele sent her love to libraries | #WhyBooksMatter

Library advocacy | Public libraries | Outreach \ Culture

June 12, 2017

 
Adele may have headlined Glastonbury and filled arenas across the globe in a worldwide tour that climaxes next month with four sold-out dates at Wembley Stadium, but 10 years ago she was playing a gig in a library in Lancaster for an audience of 175. “You can check out the show online,” says Stewart Parsons. “I am so relieved we filmed that!”
 Parsons, a librarian with more than 30 years of experience, started the Get it Loud in Libraries scheme 10 years ago to introduce new people to libraries by turning them into live music venues for special concerts. Over the last decade, 36,108 people have attended 279 shows put on by acts including alt-J, Florence + The Machine, Imelda May, British Sea Power, Plan B and, of course, everyone’s favourite balladeer, Adele, whose fee that evening in Lancaster was £50.


Read more...

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Horse-Riding Librarians Were the Great Depression’s Bookmobiles

Mobile libraries | Public libraries | Great Depression

smithsonian.com

During the Great Depression, a New Deal program brought books to Kentuckians living in remote areas
A Pack Horse librarian returning over the mountain side for a new supply of books (Part of Goodman-Paxton Photographic Collection, Kentucky Digital Library)

Their horses splashed through iced-over creeks. Librarians rode up into the Kentucky mountains, their saddlebags stuffed with books, doling out reading material to isolated rural people. The Great Depression had plunged the nation into poverty, and Kentucky—a poor state made even poorer by a paralyzed national economy—was among the hardest hit.

The Pack Horse Library initiative, which sent librarians deep into Appalachia, was one of the New Deal’s most unique plans. The project, as implemented by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), distributed reading material to the people who lived in the craggy, 10,000-square-mile portion of eastern Kentucky. The state already trailed its neighbors in electricity and highways. And during the Depression, food, education and economic opportunity were even scarcer for Appalachians.

They also lacked books: In 1930, up to 31 percent of people in eastern Kentucky couldn’t read. Residents wanted to learn, notes historian Donald C. Boyd. Coal and railroads, poised to industrialize eastern Kentucky, loomed large in the minds of many Appalachians who were ready to take part in the hoped prosperity that would bring. "Workers viewed the sudden economic changes as a threat to their survival and literacy as a means of escape from a vicious economic trap," writes Boyd. 


Read more:http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/horse-riding-librarians-were-great-depression-bookmobiles-180963786/

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Saving Lives in the Stacks: How libraries are handling the opioid crisis

Public libraries | Safety | Health

June 21, 2017


On June 1, the Philadelphia Inquirer broke the news that the Free Library of Philadelphia’s McPherson Square Branch had a serious problem with opioid use among patrons. By June 3, everybody from the Washington Post to National Public Radio (NPR) had picked up the story.

“As this nation’s opioid crisis has exploded, the staff at the public library … have become first responders,” NPR’s Scott Simon told listeners. “And I gather the librarians there have been obliged to become involved in a way that—well, become involved in a way librarians aren’t usually asked to become involved.”

What Simon didn’t say—but what librarians far and wide know—is that the McPherson Square branch is just one of many American libraries struggling with opioid-related issues such as discarded, contaminated needles; drug use in the library itself; and even on-site overdoses and fatalities. Libraries from California to Colorado, Pennsylvania to Missouri, are finding themselves on the front lines of a battle they never anticipated fighting.

Of course, opiate use isn’t limited to libraries. Neither is anyone claiming that the problem is more severe in libraries than it is anywhere else. Still, the fact that libraries are open to all, offer relative anonymity, and generally allow patrons to stay as long as they like make them uniquely vulnerable to those seeking a place to use drugs.

“It’s just like: What is going on? How can we stem this tide?” says Kim Fender, director of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (PLCH).
Read more...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Brooklyn Academy of Music Puts 70,000 Archive Materials Online

Arts | Archives | Digital Humanities

The musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson in another archival image, from the production “Empty Places” during the Next Wave Festival in 1989. Credit Linda Alaniz/Martha Swope Associates
Merce Cunningham onstage, with the composer John Cage to the right, in “How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run” in 1970. The image is part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s new digital archives. Credit James Klosty 
 
More than 70,000 playbills, posters and ephemera from the history of the Brooklyn Academy of Music — from as far back as the Civil War era — are now available through the Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive, which opened to the public on Tuesday.

The archive has been in development for several years, paid for by a $1 million grant from the Leon Levy Foundation, the same organization that funded the New York Philharmonic’s digital collection.
 
 
Read more...