Tag Archives: libraries

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

14 Jun

Neil Gaiman

A British author talks about why reading and libraries are important even in this Digital Age. Read The Guardian’s post of Neil Gaiman’s talk here.

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Every Library Has a Story to Tell

26 Apr

What secrets does a library hold?

A LIBRARY IS, AT ITS most essential, a space that holds a collection of books. A dedicated room or building is not technically necessary. In his Book of Book Lists, recently released in the United States, author Alex Johnson offers examples of portable libraries—“sturdy wooden cases” of books and magazines that “were passed between lighthouses around the United States,” for instance. He includes the library Robert Falcon Scott took on board the Discovery in 1901, when the ship left for Antarctica, with a catalogue that specified which cabin a volume could be found in. Napoleon, he writes, had a traveling collection of French classics that was ported with him to war. It included five volumes of Voltaire’s plays and Montesquieu’s work on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and Their Decline.

But whatever form a library takes, someone had to have chosen the books in it, which reveal the secrets of heart and mind—their cares, their greeds, their enthusiasms, their obsessions.

So begins Sarah Laskow’s reflections on 3 new books about book collections. You may read the rest of her Atlas Obscura post here.

Go Medieval by Attaching a Book to Your Belt

23 Apr

A girdle book held by the Beinecke Library at Yale University.

GIRDLE BOOKS HAD TO BE small, and they had to be light. From the bottom edges of their bindings extended an length of leather, usually gathered into a knot at the end. This extension of the cover could be used to carry the book like a purse or could be tucked into a girdle or belt. To read, the owner wouldn’t even have to detach the book; when taken up, the book would be oriented correctly, just as if it had been pulled from a shelf.

So begins Sarah Laskow’s fascinating report on girdle books. You may read the rest of her Atlas Obscura piece here.

Stanley Cushing: I Curated Rare Books for a 200-Year-Old Library

21 Feb

Cushing delivering a rare book talk.

The Boston Athenaeum—a 211-year-old independent library in the center of Beacon Hill—is home to about 150,000 rare books. Some are old, and some are brand new. Some are huge, and some are tiny. Some are made of lead, some are made of shredded army uniforms, and one is, famously, made of human skin. Until recently, Stanley Ellis Cushing was in charge of all of them.

So begins Cara Giaimo’s interview with the recently-retired curator at the Boston Athenaeum. You may read her entire interview at Atlas Obscura here.

TEACHING THE ART OF READING IN THE DIGITAL ERA

12 Feb

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Perhaps the oddest aspect of reading is that, for all the pleasures of the text, we must be taught to do it. Recognizing symbols and signs, as well as the ability to assign them meaning, might be innate to the human brain, but directing these abilities to follow words on the page—a relatively new skill in human history—requires instruction. Like a child learning to ride a bike without training wheels, the magical moment comes when the parent lets go and the child pedals off—and keeps going. “The most significant kind of learning,” writes the Stanford University reading specialist Elliot Eisner, “creates a desire to pursue learning in that field when one doesn’t have to.” The wonder of experiencing a novel (or the sensation of coasting on two wheels) can be habit-forming.

So notes James McWilliams in a report at the Pacific Standard. You may read his entire report on reading in the Digital Age here.

A Peek at Famous Readers’ Borrowing Records From a Private New York Library

7 Feb

The Reference Desk at the library.

The New York Society Library, a subscription library now located in a prim townhouse on East 79th Street, has been squirreling books away since 1754. Today the collection occupies nine stacks, and like any library, it can be bit overwhelming if you don’t know what to read. But the Library’s archive offers an unusual book trail to follow: the borrowing histories of its readers past.

So begins Erin Schriener’s fascinating post at Atlas Obscura on the New York Society Library. You may read the entire post here.

 

The Library of Congress rethinks archiving Twitter

3 Jan

In 2010, Twitter bestowed its entire archive of public tweets on the Library of Congress, which the library called “an exciting and groundbreaking acquisition.” The collection began on March 21, 2006, when the company’s co-founder and C.E.O., Jack Dorsey, typed “just setting up my twttr,” and has been expanding significantly each day since (approximately six thousand public tweets are now posted every second). Private and deleted tweets are not included, and neither are images or embedded videos. Everything else, though, is immediately churned into an ever-thickening text archive, to be preserved by the library for all of eternity.

So begins Amanda Petrusich’s New Yorker reflection on the Library of Congress and archiving Twitter. You may read the rest of the reflection here.

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