Tag Archives: Harvard

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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