Who can save our archives? Turning to the private sector for digitization.

This morning I was catching up on listservs and came across a link to this article in The Chicago Sun Times:

The Sun-Times Preserves Its Photo Archive by Selling It
Posted by Michael Miner on Thu, May 6, 2010

It’s worth a read. The title isn’t misleading, but there’s more to the story. The paper’s archive was sold off to a private individual, John Rogers, who is digitizing the entire collection. When finished:

The Sun-Times retains “all the intellectual property, all the copyrights,” Barron said. What’s more, Rogers is obliged to re-create the “entire library in digital searchable form,” and make it accessible to the Sun-Times. This means Rogers is doing for the Sun-Times something it couldn’t afford to do for itself but dearly wanted to. “If we could have pulled it off,” said Barron, “it would have taken years and years and years and millions of dollars.” So the deal was a “dream come true.” And far from surrendering its photo archive, he says, once it’s digitized the Sun-Times will be able to exploit it to tap a growing “aftermarket” for copies of old news photos.

The items that are appearing on eBay are duplicates, Rogers clarified. Or “things I don’t want”, he also said, which I found a little too vague. Still it’s hard to argue with what this man is doing to preserve a unique collection. That is, assuming he’s doing it right, as opposed to the sloppy way Google is digitizing books (in my humble opinion).

(Make sure to read the updates at the end of the article, with further information. I’m especially glad they clarified the bit about the library who was “keeping their photos in the basement”, making it sound like they were in old fruit boxes next to the washer, as opposed to being carefully stored in an archive.)

Love in the stacks

One of my favorite Friends episodes is the one where Ross discovers that the aisle where his dissertation is shelved, in the university library, is where everyone goes to have sex — presumably because it’s generally deserted. This list from Flavorwire seems like a tailor-made accompaniment: 10 Best Songs About Libraries and Librarians. My favorite quote is from “Swinging London” by The Magnetic Fields: “I read your manifestos and your strange religious tracts/You took me to your library and kissed me in the stacks.”

Here’s the rundown, but click through to the article above for details & song samples.

1. “At the Library” by Green Day
2. “In the Army Kid” by Of Montreal
3. “Swinging London” by The Magnetic Fields
4. “Young Adult Friction” by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
5. “Lost in the Library” – Saint Etienne
6. “There She Goes, My Beautiful World” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
7. “Library Card” by Frank Zappa
8. “Fun Fun Fun” by The Beach Boys
9. “Librarian” by My Morning Jacket
10. “Library Rap” by MC Poindexter & The Study Crew

Mildly Attractive Men of SLIS – a last-minute gift idea!

2010 calendarIs there a librarian on your shopping list? Are you having trouble thinking of what to get her, or him, for Christmas? Sure, you could try a book, but we librarians have read them. All. Gift card to Barnes & Noble? Always appreciated, but not very personal.

So why not try the Mildly Attractive Men of SLIS (that’s School of Libray & Information Science to the uninformed), USC, 2010 Calendar?

Another year, another calendar to choose for your wall. Would you like some puppies in a basket? Perhaps a gallery of assorted fruits with faces drawn on them? Well, forget about them! The mildly attractive gentlemen attending USC have assembled for your viewing pleasure throughout 2010, arranging themselves in iconic poses from the history of film.

Order yours today…

It’s my duty as a librarian

Look, I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. And when that didn’t pan out (it was a shocking disappointment), then I wanted a career in theatre. And then that didn’t work out, and then I became a librarian. You don’t always end up where you think you’re going to, but I’m a firm believer that when you do end up there, you should do your best at whatever it is.

So as a librarian, I try to stay active in regional committees. I try to follow the goings-on of professional organizations (though, more on that another time). I try to keep my head above the library-tech water. I go to workshops. I blog. And I read.

And that’s why I read Twilight. Because like it or not, apparently most of the known universe has already read it, and as a librarian, it’s my duty to keep abreast of the trends. Right?

Oh, and also for the laughs.

Twilight is something like 500 pages long, and it had me laughing somewhere in the first 100 or so. Though, being as how I read it in one sitting, in about three hours, I can’t be sure. I think it was somewhere around the dozenth time Bella tripped over her own two feet, or turned down yet another date from another boy, all the while proclaiming herself to be a plain outcast. I’m quite certain it was long before Edward dazzled us all with his diamond-glittery bare chest. It may have just been in the middle of one of Meyer’s random sentences, one of the ones where she figured, “Why use one over-the-top adjective when you can use five?”

This is another party I’m late to (though I can’t say I’m embarrassed by that). I read this post ages ago, and re-read it now that I’ve finished the book, and it very much sums up my reaction. If I were to elaborate, I could certainly say a lot about the themes, such as they are, and mention that I take a bit of issue with a story about a girl so incapable of being independent that she can’t walk to the beach without falling down or go shopping without needing to be rescued, and how thank goodness there’s a big strong boy vampire around to take care of her. Or about a book written with just a teensy bit of an abstinence-only agenda, because it’s apparently better to be undead than to lose your virginity or get your hands on a condom. And ultimately, all that aside, I could spend a great deal of time talking about the writing, if nothing else; it’s abysmal, and that’s giving abysmal a bad name. (Stephen King has a bit to say on this as well.) And I could add that aside from all of this, I do understand why it’s so popular, at least with teenage girls. I get the appeal of the romance that isn’t overtly sexual, of the attraction of a godlike creature that worships awkward, doesn’t-fit-in you, of the fantasy of moving to a new place and finding your destiny.

But I’ve done my duty, you know. I’ve read it. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go and cleanse my mental palate with something like Jhumpa Lahiri’s book of short stories (brilliant) or even perhaps just a reread of a bit of my beloved Anna Karenina.

That is, until the library lets me know that the copy of New Moon that I reserved is in.