Saturday, December 31, 2011

United 238: SAN to IAD

Gate 11

Happy holiday season from TSA, SAN

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Spirit of Radio, SiriusXM recording studio trip

SiriusXMInvisible airwaves crackle with life
Bright antennae bristle with the energy
Emotional feedback on timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free
 - Rush, "Spirit of Radio" (1980)

Since this does seem to be my year of radio, yesterday I went with a group of collegues to the SiriusXM radio studios in Washington to record some public service spots for Smithsonian Libraries. The studios were quite amazing and the staff were all friendly and helpful.

On Air

Control room monitoring all feeds
Here's my spot:

The Biodiversity Heritage Library

The Smithsonian Libraries is proud to be a founding member and host to the secretariat of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. The Biodiversity Heritage Library, or BHL for short, is a consortium of 14 natural history, botanical, government, and university libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible the literature of biodiversity as a part of a global "biodiversity commons."

Begun in 2006 after a series of informal discussions between key natural history and botanical garden libraries, the BHL partnership was formalized in 2007 and our coordinated digitization efforts began shortly thereafter. Joining the Smithsonian Libraries in this partnership are the libraries of the:

  • Academy of Natural Sciences Library in Philadelphia;
  • the American Museum of Natural History in New York City; 
  • the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco; 
  • Cornell University;  
  • The Field Museum in Chicago; 
  • the Harvard University Botany Libraries; 
  • the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University;
  • the Marine Biological Laboratory / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, MA
  • Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis; 
  • the Natural History Museum, London; 
  • The New York Botanical Garden;
  • the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; 
  • and the United States Geological Survey
A key goal in the formation of the BHL was to address a major gap in the understanding of life on Earth. Information about species is often hard to find and access. This difficulty, known as the “taxonomic impediment” is especially acute in regards to library collections.

The published literature on biodiversity often had small press runs and limited global distribution; because of this, much of this literature is available in only a few select libraries – such as our BHL partners –  located in the developed world.  Uniquely valuable, these collections are often the only place where information and descriptions of species can be found. Through free and open global access to digitized versions, the vital information about the millions of species on Earth is available not only to visitors to the great collections such as those of Smithsonian Libraries, but also to researchers worldwide, especially in those areas of greatest biodiversity.

In the past three years, the BHL has expanded globally. In 2009, the success of the BHL model led to the formation of the BHL-Europe project with 28 institutional members. BHL-Europe is creating a European language portal and aggregating existing digitized literature. More recently, China (under the auspices of the Chinese Academy of Sciences), Australia (as part of the Atlas of Living Australia project), and Brazil, have created international nodes that now collaborate as part of a Global Biodiversity Heritage Library partnership.

Wall of fame
To help tie together this global community of librarians, biologists, and computer scientists, the BHL has cultivated a large social media network to foster dialogue with users and promote the BHL’s services and resources. This network includes an informative and engaging blog as well as an active presence on Twitter and Facebook.

To date, the BHL now provides access to nearly 100,000 volumes and over 36 million pages of taxonomic literature, many digitized through our partnership with the Internet Archive. BHL users come to us from nearly every country and region in the tens of thousands. But it is the individual stories of users that we count towards our success.

Stories such as that of a medical researcher in New Zealand who uses BHL in studying insect-borne diseases in 19th century India; or the Oklahoma Fish and Wildlife Services scientist who saves countless hours by making BHL the first stop in his research. The individual impact of BHL was confirmed when we heard from a biologist who took a position in remote Spearfish, South Dakota because the online resources of BHL provided access to a world-class science library that would otherwise be unavailable.

Though the BHL has made a great start, there is still work to be done. Come visit at Biodiversity Library dot org.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Optimistic Xmas Tree shopping

Apollo 17: If you believed they put a man on the moon (well, they did in 1972)

Smithsonian Apollo Model

"If you believed they put a man on the moon, man on the moon
If you believe there's nothing up his sleeve, then nothing is cool"

- R.E.M., "Man on the Moon", Automatic for the People (1992)
In 1972 on this date, the last human - for the foreseeable future - walked on the moon. Gene Cernan, part of  the Apollo 17 team, was that last human (joined on the team by Harrison Schmitt and Ron Evans). The picture on the left isn't from that mission, but from a model around the Smithsonian. The real spacesuit is below.
Apollo 17
Apollo 17 patch from Matt707

From the Smithsonian e-Torch website:
Apollo 17 was the last Apollo mission to land men on the moon. It was launched by a Saturn V rocket Dec. 7, 1972, carrying Commander Eugene Cernan, command module pilot Ron Evans and lunar module pilot Harrison Schmitt, the only geologist to walk on the moon.
While Evans remained in lunar orbit in the command/service module, Cernan and Schmitt landed lunar module “Challenger” in the Taurus-Littrow region of the moon. They spent three days conducting three periods of extra-vehicular activity, or moonwalks, where they collected lunar samples and deployed scientific instruments.
While collecting a record 110 kilograms of lunar samples, they spent 22 hours outside of the lunar module and drove the lunar roving vehicle 35 kilometers. The crew landed in the Pacific Ocean Dec. 19, 1972.
Cernan still holds the distinction of being the last man to walk on the Moon; no humans have visited the moon since Dec. 14, 1972. This is Cernan’s spacesuit—the last spacesuit worn on the moon. When combined with the portable life-support system and other components making up the extra-vehicular mobility unit, it weighed about 185 pounds on Earth. It was transferred to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum from NASA in 1974.
Thanks to Matt707 for the Apollo 17 patch (upper right)

Friday, December 16, 2011

QotD: Stores selling artificial limbs, wig-makers, dental mechanics, loft manufacturers of perfumes, pomades, novelties, essential oils ...

Stores selling artificial limbs, wig-makers, dental mechanics, loft manufacturers of perfumes, pomades, novelties, essential oils. A point where dubious enterprise touches Skid Row
- Word Virus: The William S. Burroughs Reader

Burroughs, much like Oscar Wilde, can turn a phrase faster than an aesthete can tipple their absinthe.

At left, a store window, certainly not in Skid Row, in Sao Paulo, Brasil.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Soldiers Writing Letters Home, 1918

Soldiers Writing Letters HomeEven with the U.S. troop commitments abroad starting to wind down, there are still tens of thousands of men and women stationed overseas this holiday season.

Things have changed a lot since this photo, from the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, was taken in 1918, but this is still a good time of year to think about making a donation to the USO.

What not hope over the USO donation site and send a little something?

Survey: More Washington Monuments in 2012? Yes or no?

2011.11.27-IMG_5255(Take the survey without reading the story below) Well, it's been three years now ... and I've taken over 440 pictures of the Washington Monument, pretty much one per work day. All from about the same spot, and around the same time.

Some of you have loved them, some have just wondered why (that would be Jim Croft for which the answer was this). So, in addition to that mosaic, and this one, I've not done much else with them.

Here's the collections from 2009 (177 photos), 2010 (184 photos), and 2011 (181 and counting)

You might think that I don't have any imagination and that I don't take pictures of other things - you'd be wrong of course, why here's a photo that's not the Washington Monument (Japantown Pagoda). You might also wonder why I don't do something like take a picture of the US Capitol in the morning. Well, the answer to that is easy. The sun. The sun is usually just rising over the Capitol when I'm going to work and the glare is just too much. Same with the Smithsonian Castle - unless I take it from the steps of the National Museum of Natural History. And what about Natural History? I've tried that, and there's just not enough variation in the look.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Friday, December 09, 2011

US Airways 2045: DCA to BOS

Gate B18

#DPLA online whiteboard since Harvard Law has only black chalkboards

JP at whiteboard

We few, we happy few, we band of DPLA-ers (apologies to Will)

We few, we happy few, we band of DPLA-ers;
For they to-day that digitizes his content with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And librarians in America now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their MARChoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

(left to right: DW, MM, SJK, JP)

DPLA metadata project, name authority

Harvard University

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Occupy Harvard - peeking through the gates

2011.12.08-IMG_5290 by martin_kalfatovic
2011.12.08-IMG_5290, a photo by martin_kalfatovic on Flickr.
Harvard Yard is closed to non-students, faculty and staff because of the Occupy Harvard protest.

God is a concept by which we measure our pain

John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band (1970).

The Plastic Ono Band album was released on December 11, 1970; Lennon was killed, outside The Dakota on December 8, 1980.

Some other Lennon posts ...

Hello Berkman

And a quick hi to Connie at MCZ

South Station, Red Line, Boston

If you can't study, the next best route to Harvard

US Airways 2032: DCA to BOS

Gate 45

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Digital Public Library of America on the Kojo Nnamdi Show

2011.12.01-IMG_5259Today, along with Maura Marx (DPLA/Berkman Center) and Maria Pallante (Copyright Office/Library of Congress), I appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi Show (WAMU) to discuss the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

From the Kojo Show website:
It's something of a dream for many: to digitize and make accessible the vast number of books, documents, artifacts, photos, videos, and other materials housed at thousands of different institutions across the country. The Digital Public Library of America is working on making it a reality. We explore a collaboration between libraries, museums, and archives - including the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian - that aims to put it all online.
It was my first time on live radio (or radio in any form!). Thanks to Yukon Radio Dave (David White) of the CBC for some hints on being a guest. The whole team at the The Kojo Nnamdi Show were very helpful and made for a great experience. I also got to give a small plug to the Biodiversity Heritage Library!


WAMU studio for #dpla on Kojo Show

Martin Kalfatovic

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