What I’m reading this week

If you missed the inaugural post last week, check it out here.

Books I am reading this week

A Different Kind of Web: New Connections Between Archives and Our Users: My interest in this edited volume is two-fold: looking inward and looking outward. First, engaging the web as a tool of outreach, promotion and crowd sourcing should be used in all cultural institutions. This blog is evidence of my belief in the match-made-in-heaven Web 2.0 tools in an Archives 2.0 environment! Second, using these tools within the collection, as part of the arrangement, description, and preservation is vital in guiding a user to materials in the collection either in-person or through the web. Some of my favorite case studies described in this volume include archivists taking a leap of faith and using social media platforms to organize information and engage new users. These instances certainly follow a mantra used in one chapter: “go where the users are.”

Here’s a wonderful quote from Joy Palmer and Jane Stevenson’s introductory piece, “Something Worth Sitting Still For? Some Implications of Web 2.0 for Outreach:”

Outreach has arguably been part of the archivist’s core mission since the inception of the public archive, with the role of the archivist as not only one of protecting and preserving the archive but also of enabling access.  The term ‘outreach’ highlights the archivist as not just a gatekeeper, but also as a facilitator-promoting the riches of hidden or little-known collections to communities that might be encouraged to ‘use’ the archive. Web 2.0 technologies, which are intrinsically participatory and focused on sharing, collaboration, and mutual meaning-making, are now being effectively exploited by many among us to find new ways to reach out to users and promote not only new use of the archive but also new understandings of it.

I’d like to thank Michelle Springer at the Library’s Office of Strategic Initiatives for loaning me this book. She and Helen Zinkham also wrote a great piece for the book entitled “Taking Photographs to the People: The Flickr Commons Project and the Library of Congress.” You can check out the Flickr page here. I warn you, I’ve spent hours scrolling through these historical images. Beware!

Waldo Gifford Leland and the Origins of the American Archival Profession: NYU archivist Peter Wosh chronicles the personal and professional life of Waldo Leland, an archives advocate and leader of ACLS. Remember when I said I was familiar with Leland’s writings here? Turns out that familiarity is not widespread. Wosh attempts to rectify this historical silence by providing a detailed biographical account of Leland with a focus on the unforgettable ways he contributed to the archival profession, without actually being an archivist. You can read San Jose State’s Debra Hansen discuss the book here.

I received the book from Candace Frede at ACLS while visiting the office in New York City and read the first few chapters on the train ride back to Washington, DC. Leland was  a prominent leader of ACLS and a unique voice for promoting archives internationally. I am excited to learn more!

Digital content I read this week

The New Library of Babel? Borges, Digitisation and the Myth of the Universal Library: Disseminating texts in virtual space, the universal library and the enduring struggle between print and digital media…oh my!  The authors divides  the article into three equally intriguing sections: concepts of the book, concepts of the  library, and concepts of reading. He focuses not on the “cultural and religious significance” but on the technological development of the book. He moves from the traditional concepts of library settings to considering a universal library. And he delineates the types of reading that we do: linear and tabular. Then he makes a plea to interrogate what happens when we read digital texts. The author concludes by invoking the universal library wizards, Google, and in my opinion, rightly reveals what exactly we are doing when we think of open access:

Electronic media clearly improves or enables certain established and emergent forms of text, the former including informational or tabular texts and the latter including interactive fiction and hypertexts. Still, the phenomenal differences separating book and ebook, library and digital library, and reading a book and reading onscreen or Web–based text must be recognised. The utopian fantasy of the universal library so frequently raised in connection with digitisation, and particularly with the Google Books Library Project, is a new myth clothed in the garb of an old one, borrowing its terms and little else. It is preferable to think of Google Books not as a potentially perfect library but as a near–perfect library index, encompassing as it does not simply keywords and short descriptions of books but the entire contents of the books themselves, and Google seems to have embraced this definition, at least for the present.

Speaking of e-books…

MacMillan to Settle E-Book Suit Brought my Connecticut and 32 Other States: This Wall Street Journal article along with a flurry of others deal with the legal battle that ensnared the publishing giant. For those ACLS-ers out there, you know that ACLS is moving full speed into the e-book arena. Macmillan was the last of five major publishers to be dealt a blow. But, this seems like the tip of the e-iceberg. In June 2013, legal trials against Apple and Penguin Group USA are scheduled to begin. You can read more about the suit here and here.

Archives of the New York Public Library: This blog is a treat for archivists. The rotating authors highlight exciting new collections or hidden gems in their archives. One of my recent favorites is entitled “Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: MPLP, the New Standard?” for two obvious reasons: first, we learn a little bit about Mr. Leary and his…eclectic life; and second, the archivist used More Product, Less Process (MPLP) to arrange and describe the collection. Since I am processing the ACLS collection using the same method, it was helpful to read an honest perspective on implementing the technique. The archivist/author quipped, “I hang my head when admitting my compulsion to sort letters in chronological order. I must carry on in the hopes I will have time to return to these tasks.” Oh, archivist humor!

Thanks to Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division for use of “$2,500,000 in rare books acquired for Folger Library…” photograph used in this post.

One thought on “What I’m reading this week

  1. Pingback: What I’m reading this week | Documenting the Humanities

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