Monday, February 08, 2016

Last week, @SILibraries hosted the @BioDivLibrary "Expanding Access to BioDiv Literature" workshop funded by the IMLS

2016.02.04-DSC05719On February 4-5, 2016, Smithsonian Libraries hosted staff from the New York Botanical Garden, the Museum of Comparative Zoology (Harvard University), and the Missouri Botanical Garden as part of  a training workshop for the New York Botanical Garden's IMLS funded grant, "Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature."

The BHL Secretariat staff (Carolyn Sheffield, BHL Program Manager; Bianca Crowley, BHL Collections Manager; Grace Costantino, BHL Communications and Outreach Manager; and BHL Program Director, Martin Kalfatovic) conducted the two day workshop based on previous workshops for BHL Africa and BHL Mexico. The workshop provided an intense overview of the methodologies for partnering with institutions not currently participating in the BHL for the ingest of new content for the BHL.

Participating staff included:

2016.02.04-DSC05720New York Botanical Garden, LuEsther T. Mertz Library
  • Susan Fraser (Director of the NYBG LuEsther T. Mertz Library, Project Director)
  • Susan Lynch (Systems Librarian, Data Manager) 
  • Mariah Lewis (Metadata Specialist - and former Smithsonian Libraries' intern) 
2016.02.04-DSC05721Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard
  • Constance Rinaldo (Librarian of the Ernst Mayr Library of the MCZ/Harvard University) 
  • Joe deVeer (Project Manager and Museum Liaison for the Ernst Mayr Library of the MCZ/Harvard University)
  • Patrick Randall (Community Manager)
2016.02.04-DSC05722Missouri Botanical Garden, Center for Biodiversity Informatics
  • Trish Rose-Sandler (Digital Projects Coordinator, Center for Biodiversity Informatics, Missouri Botanical Garden and Data Analyst for BHL) 
Thanks to the staff from the Smithsonian Libraries' Natural History Library for hosting the event in their training room.

"Exploring the For Elements" meeting at the @JCBLibrary

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John Carter Brown Library
"Exploring the Four Elements: Towards a Digital Environmental History of the Americas" a National Endowment for the Humanities funded project that aims to explore both the physical and digital representation of the four elements (earth, air, fire, water) as represented by the special collections of the John Carter Brown Library (JCBL) in Providence, Rhode Island.

The John Carter Brown Library is
an independently administered and funded center for advanced research in history and the humanities, founded in 1846 and located at Brown University since 1901. Housed within the Library’s walls is an internationally renowned, constantly growing collection of primary historical sources pertaining to the Americas, both North and South, before ca. 1825. For 150 years the Library has served scholars from all over the United States and abroad. The Library offers fellowships, sponsors lectures and conferences, regularly mounts exhibitions for the public, and publishes catalogues, bibliographies, and other works that interpret its holdings to facilitate and encourage use of the collection.
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Dr. del Valle (left) & Dr. Scott (right)
This was the second meeting (the first being held at the Morgan Library in New York in April 2015)of the advisory group convened (and attended) by Neil Safier (Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo Director and Librarian and a past Smithsonian Libraries' Dibner Library Resident Scholar in 2002). The group at this meeting included:
  • Ivonne del Valle (Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California, Berkeley)
  • Heidi Scott (Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
  • Josh Greenberg (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation)
  • Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert (History and Classical Studies, McGill University)
  • James McGrath (Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Public Humanities, Brown University)
  • William Skinner (Graduate Student, History of Art and Architecture, Brown University)
  • Stuart Lynn (CartoDB) 
  • Ian Graham ‎(John Carter Brown Library)
  • Brenda de Santiago (John Carter Brown Library)
  • Robert Preucel (Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University)
  • Leslie Tobias Olsen (Manager of Computing and Digital Imaging, John Carter Brown Library)
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JCBL Reading Room
The group was able to explore the stunning reading room of the "JCB" and get an up close (and case open) tour of the current exhibition, "Pamphlet Wars: Arguments on Paper from the Age of Revolutions" by one of the curators, Kenneth C. Ward. It's always a treat to hear curators talk about their work and with the added bonus of Mr. Ward's opening the cases to show additional pages of some of the key texts. A highlight for me was seeing the 6th edition of Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" paired with the first edition in Spanish (Reflecciones politicas escritas bajo el titulo de Instinto comun. Lima: En la Imprenta de Rio., año de 1821).

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"Pamphlet Wars" exhibition

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Dr. Scott (left) with selections from "Subterranean Worlds"
Dr. Heidi Scott, curator of the first of the "Four Elements" exhibitions, "Subterranean Worlds: Under the Earth in the Early Americas". Though the exhibition was no longer on view, Dr. Scott had arranged for the group to see some of the highlights of the exhibition.

Of course the highlight of any library meeting is getting that special behind the scenes tour of the rare book collections (of course at the John Carter Brown Library, it's all rare books!). Dr. Safier took the group to the atlas and bound manuscript area of the stacks and showed us such treasures as a volume of George Washington's cash books, a number of early atlases, and other treasures.

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Treasures from the John Carter Brown Library

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IA Scribe Scanner
The JCBL is also a scanning partner with the Internet Archive and have a Scribe machine in their processing area. Leslie Tobias Olsen (Manager of Computing and Digital Imaging, John Carter Brown Library) gave me a tour of their scanning operations (as well as their collection of "historic" library technology such as a pre-WWII photostat machine!).

As a side note, as many of you probably know, Providence is the hometown of noted fantasy/science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft's house is just down the street from Brown University (and just a regular house) ... it might just have been my imagination, but I could, I think, almost sense the squid-like smell of the Cthulhu!

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Home of H.P. Lovecraft, Providence, RI

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

American Airlines 4946: PVD to DCA

Gate 4

"I have seen the dark universe yawning" - H.P. Lovecraft #QotD

IMG_20160201_184147944I have seen the dark universe yawning
     Where the black planets roll without aim—
Where they roll in their horror unheeded,
     Without knowledge or lustre or name.
—Nemesis.

"Young Blake returned to Providence in the winter of 1934–5, taking the upper floor of a venerable dwelling in a grassy court off College Street—on the crest of the great eastward hill near the Brown University campus and behind the marble John Hay Library. It was a cosy and fascinating place, in a little garden oasis of village-like antiquity where huge, friendly cats sunned themselves atop a convenient shed. The square Georgian house had a monitor roof, classic doorway with fan carving, small-paned windows, and all the other earmarks of early nineteenth-century workmanship. Inside were six-panelled doors, wide floor-boards, a curving colonial staircase, white Adam-period mantels, and a rear set of rooms three steps below the general level.

Blake’s study, a large southwest chamber, overlooked the front garden on one side, while its west windows—before one of which he had his desk—faced off from the brow of the hill and commanded a splendid view of the lower town’s outspread roofs and of the mystical sunsets that flamed behind them. On the far horizon were the open countryside’s purple slopes. Against these, some two miles away, rose the spectral hump of Federal Hill, bristling with huddled roofs and steeples whose remote outlines wavered mysteriously, taking fantastic forms as the smoke of the city swirled up and enmeshed them. Blake had a curious sense that he was looking upon some unknown, ethereal world which might or might not vanish in dream if ever he tried to seek it out and enter it in person."

2016.01.31-DSC05688 From "The Haunter of the Dark" is a horror short story written by H. P. Lovecraft in November 1935, and published in the December 1936 edition of Weird Tales (Vol. 28, No. 5, p. 538–53). It was the last-written of the author's known works, and is part of the Cthulhu Mythos. The epigraph to the story is the second stanza of Lovecraft's 1917 poem "Nemesis".