Tag Archives: Harvard

Robert Darnton closes the book

“Early this summer, Robert Choate Darnton, Harvard’s Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and University Librarian, will pack up his book-lined office on the second floor of Wadsworth House. As of June 30, the celebrated historian, digital library pioneer, and champion of books will leave the University he first saw as an undergraduate in 1957. A scholar of Enlightenment France and of the history of the book, he returned to Harvard in 1965 to join the Society of Fellows, decamped to Princeton University in 1968 for 39 years, and came back to Harvard in 2007.” (via Harvard Gazette)

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Saving the digital record

“When digital becomes dinosaur, most people simply get inconvenienced. But librarians and archivists get seriously concerned. Ensuring that digital content — whether it’s a short story by John Updike or a very rare audio recording of a vanished Native American language — lives on past its initial platform is one of the most pressing issues in preservation science. Harvard is one of a handful of cultural institutions in the first wave of adopting a technology and process to preserve its digital content.” (via Harvard Gazette)

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Harvard Library Innovation Lab wins a 2015 Webby

“Perma.cc, a project that takes on the problem of “link rot” or broken or defunct links in scholarship, has won the prestigious Webby Award for best law site of 2015. Developed by the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, Perma.cc is a web archiving service that helps authors and publishers create permanent links to their online sources, which are preserved by participating libraries. “Libraries are in the forever business,” said Kim Dulin, director of the lab and associate director for collection development and digital initiatives. “We developed Perma.cc to allow our users to protect and preserve their sources, no matter where they originate.” (via Harvard Law Today)

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Professors See Shift in Academic Attitudes on Wikipedia

“While professors, scholars, and other academics in the early 2000s cautioned students not to consult Wikipedia at all when researching, attitudes concerning the popular online encyclopedia are shifting, according to some Harvard professors. Some professors in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences said they see Wikipedia as more acceptable, even as a website that students can peruse for somewhat reliable information. Although they still warned students to be wary when using Wikipedia, some professors no longer look at the site with the same criticism.” (via he Harvard Crimson)

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A Glimpse Inside the Hidden Vault Where Harvard Keeps Millions of Books

“Harvard’s flagship library, Widener, is an imposing granite cube built quite literally as shrine to the book. A central alcove cuts through the stacks to show off a prized relic: an original Gutenberg bible. But this is not the heart of Harvard’s libraries. No, that would be its cold storage site, an anonymous concrete building few students or even faculty know about. The Harvard Depository, some 30 miles from the Cambridge campus, better resembles an Amazon warehouse than a library. The 200,000 square foot facility houses the vast majority of Harvard Library’s collection—some 9 million books, films, LPs, magnetic tapes, and pamphlets sorted not by the Dewey decimal system but by size. (via Gizmodo)

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Crowdsourcing old journals

“From the time he was 10 a century and a half ago, William Brewster searched the woods and fields of New England for birds, eventually becoming a noted ornithologist and spending half his life curating the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology’s bird collection. In addition to his passion for fieldwork, Brewster was a diligent note-taker. When he died in 1919, he left behind a collection of 40,000 birds, nests, and eggs, but also thousands of pages of diaries and journals that provide valuable insights on both the birdlife of his era and, through his writing on other subjects, the times themselves. At least, they would if people could read them.” (via Harvard Gazette)

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Where books (and more) go to wait

“I still walk in here and say, ‘Wow,’ ” said Steve Bertino. Bertino is part of the team that runs the Harvard Depository, a high-density, high-security, off-campus facility that houses a staggering amount of materials from Harvard’s library collections — representing much of human knowledge accrued since the dawn of civilization. This is patron service and stewardship at a massive yet precise scale. The depository holds about 10 million volumes on 30-foot-tall shelves, and industrial lifts are used to retrieve items for patrons. Each lift travels only about 200 feet, yet passes 300,000 books on 2,000 shelves. About 880,000 manuscripts, films, maps, University archives, and photographs, as well as books, flow through the facility a year, about the number of breaths the average adult takes in the same time period.” (via Harvard Gazette)

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Of books, trees, and knowledge

To Ling Guo, a curator for the Beijing Botanic Garden, one of the best places to learn about Chinese crab apples is half a world away, in Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library. Guo was wrapping up two months at the Arboretum as a visiting scientist and a recipient of the Jewett Prize, which supports researchers studying flowers and fruits. Guo, one of the world’s foremost experts on crab apples, has been creating an updated checklist of all the world’s varieties for use by her home institution as it takes over the rotating role managing the international crab apple registry, which helps monitor and assign names for new varieties.” (via Harvard Gazette)

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Harvard library stores Tibetan digital archive

“BEGINNING IN JULY, Harvard Library will upload onto its digital storage system 10 million pages of Tibetan literature that survived China’s convulsive Cultural Revolution, the movement between 1966 and 1976 that led to the destruction of countless Chinese and Tibetan literary texts. The project is the result of a partnership between Harvard Library and the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC), a nonprofit organization based in Harvard Square that has been acquiring, scanning, and digitally preserving Tibetan volumes since its founding in 1999.” (via Harvard Magazine)

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Caveat Lecter

“Good news for fans of anthropodermic bibliopegy, bibliomaniacs and cannibals alike: tests have revealed that Houghton Library’s copy of Arsène Houssaye’s Des destinées de l’ame (FC8.H8177.879dc) is without a doubt bound in human skin. Harvard conservators and scientists tested the binding using several different methods. According to Senior Rare Book Conservator Alan Puglia, they are 99% confident that the binding is of human origin. Microscopic samples were taken from various locations on the binding, and were analyzed by peptide mass fingerprinting, which identifies proteins to create a “peptide mass fingerprint” (PMF) allowing analysts to identify the source.” (via Houghton Library Blog)

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