Monday, December 31, 2007

Hall's Pond

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
Hall's Pond, in Brookline, Mass., is a former cedar swamp that after years of development, is being returned to a more natural state (in the middle of a very urban environment)

National Library of Addiction

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
There is a library for just about everything!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Card Catalog

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
Card catalog at the Massachusetts State Library in the State Capitol

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hundreds of New Species

Number 4 on Time Magazine's Top 10 Scientific discoveries of 2007 was a report from Nature that over 700 new species were discovered in the deep waters off Antarctica:

Scientists announced in the journal Nature this May that they had discovered 700 new species of organisms — including carnivorous sponges and giant sea spiders — some 2,300 ft. to 19,700 ft. (700 m to 6,000 m) down in the Weddell Sea off Antarctica. Scientists also reported the identification of 24 new species in an isolated area of Suriname, where the exploration for bauxite, which is used to make aluminum, led to the discovery of 12 dung beetles, an ant species, six species of fish and five new frogs, including one with fluorescent purple markings. Other fauna finds include a legless amphibian near Goa, India; 11 new species of plants and animals in central Vietnam's tropical "green" corridor; a new monkey in Uganda; a sucker-footed bat in Madagascar; a clouded leopard in Sumatra and Borneo, and a sea cucumber off the coast of Taiwan, nicknamed "Little Strawberry."

Big Cliff at CNI

Clifford Lynch appears larger than life on screen at the closing plenary session of the Fall 2007 CNI meeting in Washington.

Monday, December 10, 2007

CNI Task Force meeting - Tom and Carl

Carl Lagoze gave a talk at the Fall CNI Task Force meeting where he unveiled the alpha version of the new OAI-ORE (OAI-Object Reuse and Exchange) protocol. See more at

Tom Garnett and Neil Sarkar will give a presentation on the Biodiversity Heritage Library at the session on December 11.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sexier than a librarian ...

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
A version of the controversial Sony Reader ad; this one is a backlit ad on the Washington Metro.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

National Library of Pakistan

Today I met with Muhammad Nazir, Director General of the National Library of Pakistan. Mr. Nazir was on a Department of State organized visit to the United States. Mr. Nazir met with myself and senior Smithsonian Libraries' staff to discuss the relationship of museums and libraries and also various digitization projects underway at the Smithsonian.

Quote of the Day: December 4, 2007

In the Google worldview, content is individually valueless. No one page is more important than the next; the value lies in the page view. And a page view is a page view, regardless of whether the page in question has a picture of a cat, a single link to another site, or the full text of Freakonomics. When all you're selling is ad space, the value shifts from the content to the viewer. And ultimately the content is valued at nothing. And here, finally, is the larger problem posed by Google's actions. Books are not in any important sense user-centric. Whether or not a book has readers matters little. Books stand on their own, over time, as ideas and creations. In the world of books, it is the ideas and the authors that matter most, not the readers. That is why the copyright exists in the first place, to protect the value of these created works, a value which Google is trying mightily to deny.

Google and Its Enemies
The much-hyped project to digitize 32 million books sounds like a good idea. Why are so many people taking shots at it?
by Jonathan V. Last
The Weekly Standard
12/10/2007, Volume 013, Issue 13

Emphasis added to the above quote. If a book has no readers, does it really have value? Is it the potential of readers (somewhere at some point far off in the long tail) that gives value to a book? By the very act of publishing (in the traditional mediated manner of print or other "authorities") there is at least one reader (the publisher/editor). In the world of Web 2.0 publishing creation happens and maybe no one ever sees it (hello out there, is anyone reading this? If you are, thank you! I give you value!), does that have value? I wonder.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wiring for FIOS

FIOS coming to the area ... the folks from Verizon have been digging ditches and laying cable for a few weeks now ... next, the drilling into the walls!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Seal: NARA: Archive II

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
My first visit to the National Archives and Records Administration's Archives II location in College Park, Maryland.

A very interesting place is the Archives!

National Archives: Main Building in Washington

What is past is prologue: getting the NARA shuttle from downtown to Archives II

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quote of the Day: November 15, 2007

"As steam engines go, Neuromancer turns out to be the Twenty-first Century Limited, and all of us find ourselves on board."
"Some Dark Holler" by Jack Womack, in William Gibson (1984). Neuromancer. Cited from Ace Books, 2000, p.270.

Vulpus nuntii

Fox News covered the U.S. visit of Linnaeus' copy of Systema Naturae, usually stored in the Hagstromer Medico-Historical library at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, to the New York Botanical Garden and the SmithsonianNational Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mr. Flower Power!

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History celebrated 300 years of Linnaean taxonomy with a symposium and exhibition. The Swedish ambassador (Jonas Hafström at podium) gave remarks at the evening reception.

The exhibition, "A Tribute to Carl Linnaeus, 1707-1778" (November 13-14) features the author's own copy of Systema Naturae (courtesy of the Swedish Embassy), with illustrations by Georg Dionysius Ehret. At the evening reception, the Biodiversity Heritage Library displayed the online version of the 1758 edition of Systema (from the Missouri Botanical Garden Library) and there was also an appearance by Linnaeus [as envisioned by Hans Odöö].

Metaportrait with sea life

the gang
Originally uploaded by theinkdrinker
Invertebrates meet the reflected images of some vertebrates at the National Museum of Natural History

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Great Auk

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
The Smithsonian Institution Libraries is currently highlighting extinct animals in its exhibition case in the lobby of the National Museum of Natural History. Here is a Great Auk, along with heritage literature, an engraved egg, and photo of Smithsonian ornithologist, Storrs Olson

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday, November 02, 2007

Planet Bob!

A humorous view of taxonomy and its importance to life on the planet - even Planet Bob!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Quote of the Day: 26 October 2007

Paul Saffo, a technology consultant who teaches at Stanford, says the valley owes much of its success to the remnants of a "frontier culture that disrespects elders, values risk-taking and honors failure" in a way that is simply inconceivable in a government or financial center.
Paul Saffo, in Steven Pearlstein (2007). "Over the Rainbow In Silicon Valley". Washington Post. October 26, 2007; Page D01

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quote of the Day: October 23, 2007

'Companies that lead need to be willing to say that occasional growing pains are ok. If a company only listens to what customers think they need, it won’t be able to innovate. As Henry Ford said, “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”'
Matt, 37Signals Blog

Sunday, October 21, 2007

BHL @ OCA video

Tom Garnett, Director of the Biodiversity Heritage Library, gave an update on the BHL at the 3rd Annual Open Content Alliance meeting in San Francisco.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Seagull and Alcatraz


Libraries Going Open

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
The 3rd Annual Open Content Alliance meeting was held at the Presidio in San Francisco on October 17, 2007. The meeting saw the gathering of over 100 people from around the world to celebrate open access to library materials. Hosted by the Internet Archive, the evening also saw the debut of a new short film, "Libraries Going Open!" (

Libraries Going Open! Debuts

The Open Content Alliance 3rd annual meeting held at the Presidio in San Francisco saw the debut of "Libraries Going Open" a new short film celebrating open access to library material.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bird thing on Tehama in the Mission

?? in the mission

X: Long Now

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
The Long Now foundation HQ in San Francisco

The Greens

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
Before the Open Content Alliance meeting in San Francisco, Chris, Suzanne and I did some pre-meeting meeting. Here we are having dinner at The Greens.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, Virginia

The Balch Library in Leesburg houses an excellent local history and genealogy collection. The library, built in the 1920s, was expanded in 2000 with a tasteful architectural addition (on the back, not seen in this photo).

Tuesday, October 09, 2007