October 9, 2011, 6:46 pm
In 1997, Apple didn’t look as if it had much of a future. The company was losing money, and its co-founder Steve Jobs had just come back to try to reverse the decline. “It was a low point for the company,” says Henry Lowood, curator of the History of Science and Technology Collections and the Film and Media Collections at Stanford University.
Streamlining operations, Apple decided to donate many of its research-and-development records and advertising materials, some historic machines, and other pieces of company history to Stanford. It’s now part of Stanford’s Silicon Valley Archive, which includes Valley-related material dating from to the early-20th-century days of radio engineering up through the computer and biotech start-ups of recent years.
Apple’s donation came “with virtually no strings attached,” Mr. Lowood says. (The university does have to keep track of who owns the…
May 20, 2011, 12:01 am
Think you know what the proposed Digital Public Library of America should look like? Now’s your chance to weigh in. The project’s steering committee has just announced a “Beta Sprint,” inviting the public to contribute “ideas, models, prototypes, technical tools, user interfaces, etc.” Anyone who wants to take part must submit a statement of interest by June 15, and final submissions are due September 1.
“We hope geeks and librarians, especially, will join forces to develop beta submissions in support of this initiative,” John Palfrey, the director of the steering committee, said in a statement. He is co-director of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, which has been coordinating DPLA planning. (It also runs a public wiki where people can contribute to the discussion.) Mr. Palfrey explains more about the beta sprint and how it will fit into the broader planning …
April 22, 2011, 3:29 pm
E-mails don’t have the inky charisma of handwritten manuscripts, but they’re more and more a part of literary archives. For instance, when the British Library announced this week that it has acquired the poet Wendy Cope‘s archive, it made much of the hybrid nature of the material, which includes thousands of e-mails.
“Retrieved from ‘the cloud’, the collection of approximately 40,000 e-mails dating from 2004 to the present is the most substantial in a literary archive acquired by the British Library to date, affording among other things a fascinating and extensive insight into writerly networks,” the library said. The acquisition cost £32,000 (nearly $53,000), according to the announcement.
“It’s new territory for us,” Rachel Foss, lead curator of modern-literary manuscripts at the British Library, told The Independent newspaper. “This is the second major e-mail…
April 1, 2011, 4:47 pm
Philadelphia—Want to add a set of unique materials to your campus library’s digital collection? Scan the archives of the student newspaper. That’s what Bart Schmidt, a digital-projects librarian at Drake University, decided to do last year with The Times-Delphic.
Most student-newspaper archives “are unindexed and totally underused,” Mr. Schmidt told people who stopped by his poster presentation this afternoon here at the Association of College and Research Libraries conference. But they represent a unique resource, he said. And “nobody else is digitizing your student newspaper.”
It doesn’t take a lot of resources, he said. At Drake, they use a Microtech Scanpro microfilm scanner, Adobe Photoshop, CONTENTdm digital collection-management software, and student labor. Mr. Schmidt does some minimal quality control on the scans.
“If it’s legible, it’s good enough,” he said. “The…
February 28, 2011, 6:41 pm
The steady growth of e-books has forced libraries to contend with how to curate and distribute materials in a way that makes them easy for increasingly technology-oriented patronage to access.
Some 150 public and academic libraries are trying to respond to that challenge through a new collaboration with the Internet Archive and Open Library. The arrangement will allow library patrons at participating institutions to access e-books owned and stored at libraries other than their home libraries. Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian at the Internet Archive, says the group has come up with a solution in which “the tech doesn’t suck” and “everyone will get paid.”
The collaboration will use Open Library, an existing e-book lending service, as a means to curate the more than 80,000 e-books that partner institutions have offered up as part of the initial push, Mr. Kahle …
August 4, 2010, 4:19 pm
The dog days of summer—it’s been an especially oppressive season here in the nation’s capital—have us thinking about air-conditioned museums and the sunless stacks of libraries. Here are some cool digital archives or archive-related projects we’ve come across lately. If you can’t make it to a museum, library, or archive in real life, cool off with some virtual browsing through one of these. Consider this an overture to the Society of American Archivists’s annual meeting, which will be held here in Washington next week.
—The Churchill Archives Centre, at Churchill College, Cambridge, houses the great man’s papers along with more than 570 collections “of personal papers and archives documenting the history of the Churchill era and after.” It’s supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which makes us wonder how proposed cuts to arts-and-culture funding in Britain might affect projects like …
September 21, 2009, 2:00 pm
The Samaritans of biblical fame still exist, although their numbers are small: The current community, split between Holon, Israel, and Mount Gerizim in the West Bank, numbers just over 700 people. In 1901, a Michigan industrialist named E.K. Warren traveled to the Middle East and was asked to bring home a collection of sacred Samaritan objects for safekeeping. The objects include prayer books and centuries-old versions of the Samaritan Pentateuch, or Torah, which has some significant differences from the Jewish Pentateuch. The collection has been housed ever since at Michigan State University.
In 2007, as a graduate student at Michigan State, James Ridolfo came across an electronic index to the collection. He got in touch with a Samaritan elder, Binyamin Tsedaka, who had been asking Michigan State to “promote Samaritan studies.” Working with William Hart-Davidson, co-director of the…
June 2, 2009, 2:35 pm
Billed as “a comprehensive directory of online philosophy articles and books by academic philosophers,” PhilPapers is the brainchild of David Chalmers, a philosopher who directs the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University, and David Bourget, one of Mr. Chalmers’s graduate students. First sustained by ANU, the project now has a two-year grant from Britain’s Joint Information Systems Committee and support from the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London, where Mr. Bourget is a rising postdoc.
Judged by the early numbers, PhilPapers has been a hit. It now has about 5,000 registered users, 60 percent to 70 percent of them graduate students and professors in philosophy, according to Mr. Bourget. Site traffic grew from 23,000 visits in February to 96,000 in May. The Chronicle asked Mr. Bourget for an update on how the experiment has unfolded so far and how …