What people do in libraries, by the numbers, from a new Pew study. Complement with President Ford on libraries and knowledge as the strength of a nation.
Our strength as a nation depends in large measure on the willingness of every citizen to grow in knowledge and wisdom and to discover and use given talents in a constructive and meaningful way.
A letter from President Ford celebrating libraries and librarians. Complement with more heart-warming letters on the importance of libraries from Dr. Seuss, Isaac Asimov, Neil Armstrong, and others.
The [Digital Public Library of America] represents the confluence of two currents that have shaped American civilization: utopianism and pragmatism. The utopian tendency marked the Republic at its birth, for the United States was produced by a revolution, and revolutions release utopian energy—that is, the conviction that the way things are is not the way they have to be. When things fall apart, violently and by collective action, they create the possibility of putting them back together in a new manner, according to higher principles.
For all its futuristic technology, the DPLA harkens back to the eighteenth century. What could be more utopian than a project to make the cultural heritage of humanity available to all humans? What could be more pragmatic than the designing of a system to link up millions of megabytes and deliver them to readers in the form of easily accessible texts?
Above all, the DPLA expresses an Enlightenment faith in the power of communication. Jefferson and Franklin—the champion of the Library of Congress and the printer turned philosopher-statesman—shared a profound belief that the health of the Republic depended on the free flow of ideas.
Robert Darnton considers the monumental implications of this month’s launch of the Digital Public Library of America, a new “distributed system of electronic content that will make the holdings of public and research libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies available, effortlessly and free of charge, to readers located at every connecting point of the Web.”
How far the library has come.
This heartwarming infographic annual report from The New York Public Library shows that 18 million people visited the library’s 91 branches in 2012 – more people than ever before – turning to NYPL for such diverse needs as books, computer workshops, kids programs, job-search help, free English classes, and more.
NYPL is supported by patron donations – make yours here.
The Vatican Library, known as the Bibliotheca Apostolica, is one of the oldest libraries in the world and houses 89,000 historic books, documents, and manuscripts. It is now joining other ambitious preservation efforts in the digital humanities and embarking upon a multi-year project to digitize, store, archive and put the entire collection online.
Filament Mind – an illuminated “connectome” visualizes books borrowed at the Teton County Library.
Each of the 1000 fiber optic cables hanging above (totaling over 5 miles of cable) corresponds to a call number in the Dewey Decimal System, which organizes the library’s collection into approximately 1000 categories of knowledge. These category titles are displayed in text on the lobby’s south and north walls.
More on how it was made here.
If that’s not bibliophilia, don’t know what is: London readers continue to browse at a bombed-out library, WWII.
This is an ocean of ephemera. A library of Babel. No one is under any illusions about the likely quality—seriousness, veracity, originality, wisdom—of any one tweet. The library will take the bad with the good: the rumors and lies, the prattle, puns, hoots, jeers, bluster, invective, bawdy probes, vile gossip, epigrams, anagrams, quips and jibes, hearsay and tittle-tattle, pleading, chicanery, jabbering, quibbling, block writing and ASCII art, self-promotion and humblebragging, grandiloquence and stultiloquence. New news every millisecond. A vast confusion of vows, wishes, actions, edicts, petitions, lawsuits, pleas, laws, proclamations, complaints, grievances. Now comical then tragical matters.
Call it what you will, the Twitter corpus now forms a piece of “the creative record of America” and therefore falls squarely within the library’s mission, says Robert Dizard Jr., the Deputy Librarian of Congress. Historians treasure nineteenth-century diaries; why not twenty-first-century tweets? “I think the twitter archive has the potential to allow researchers or scholars to paint a picture of the past with more colors or a fuller brushstroke.”