Monthly Archives: November 2013

Two Awesomebrarians in the Spotlight

Glean Creason and Megan Prelinger

A great library can only exist with the efforts of a great librarian, someone who leads and provides an example to the staff and who lives and breathes their collection.

I applaud when blogs and newspapers spotlight librarians who provide a unique service to their towns and cities. In the case of Glen Creason, map librarian, his familiarity with the public library’s city map collections are tested by patron’s reference questions on the regular. The hidden story of L.A. found in the 100,000-plus maps have led to exhibits and articles. Creason’s 2010 book “Los Angeles in Maps” tells an illustrated history of 469 square miles of metropolis.

From Los Angeles Times:

“People always say, ‘Why is Los Angeles so spread out?’ and there’s so many reasons for that,” Creason says. “The streetcar lines were basically created by people who were going to make a lot of money selling real estate and that meant connecting everything that they could.

“These things that are reflected on these maps are either to make railways where you’re going to sell real estate along the path, you’re going to control water, you’re going to have movie studios, you’re going to sell the land to the rubes, and you portray Los Angeles as a garden.”

Another article I liked came from the blog at ModCloth an e-commerce site.”Renegade” librarian Megan Prelinger opened the Prelinger Library in San Francisco in 2004 with her husband Rick Prelinger. Their library came from a desire to build a community around an eccentric collection of books, periodicals, ephemera, government documents, and zines. In the library a neon sign reads “Free Speech, Fear Free.” The library stays true to that mantra. Many of their items are viewable for free on the Internet Archive and the library invites all people to research for free, they’re open Wednesdays.

From ModCloth:

“I started out pursuing a career as an indie historian, trying to determine what it would mean to write or understand history based on resources that were different from what was in mainstream libraries,” she says. “I started with the idea of doing new historical research based on found and forgotten materials.” “When I graduated, I didn’t really want to go back to school,” says Megan. “I wanted to go on field trips and road trips around the U.S. — which I did, and I started finding and collecting things in used bookstores and the backs of gas stations.”

The two articles about standout librarians in California make me stoked for the attention hard working professionals bring to our field.

Images from Los Angeles Times and ModCloth.

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Frankenstein and Fascicles Go Online

Illustration Library Manifesto

Last week, early November 2013, the archives of two dominant, western, female writers of the nineteenth century were made available online.

The collaborations are the latest examples of library-archive cooperation, making collections larger and more accessible to a greater number of people.

At the time of her death Dickinson’s family dispersed her writings to multiple institutions,  culls the various Dickinson collections into one place. The archives reside at the Beinecke Library at Yale, Amherst College (where her father was treasurer), Boston Public Library, Harvard University, Houghton Library, Library of Congress, Smith and Vassar College. Site visitors may search manuscripts by title, date, recipient, or institution. You can zoom in on hi-res images and, for hard to decipher text, type written transcriptions are available.

Emily Dickinson spent much of her life working in a room where she had a bed, a cast-iron stove, and a writing table. She only shared her poems -which she wrote on scrap paper, envelopes and old bills- with close friends and relatives. The online archive brings her handwritten work to a larger audience than ever before.


The Emily Dickinson Archive contains hi-resolution images of poetry written on envelopes and scrap papers.


Click “Text” to see transcriptions, metadata, and more about the history of each work.

Last week also saw the Halloween-day premiere of including the archives of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft. For the first time all of the manuscripts are online in the same place. Like the Emily Dickinson online archive, the Shelley-Godwin Archive is a collaborative effort from a number of libraries.


The homepage of the Shelley-Godwin archive displays the collaborative forces behind the project.

The site has a search option but browsing is limited. Some manuscripts are yet to be transcribed but images are tagged to indicate what state of the digital process they’re in. The Frankenstein manuscripts are vast and given their own link on the navigation bar. For each manuscript page a veiwer may choose to highlight the writing of Mary Shelley or the notations of Percy Shelley. The notes give us a unique window into their relationship.

From the NY Times:

“In particular, he pointed to two places in the manuscript where Percy drops his neutral editorial stance and addresses his wife intimately. In one, he corrects her spelling of [‘enigmatic,’] then addresses her using a favorite nickname: ‘Oh you pretty pecksie!’ (Mary, elsewhere, called her husband ‘Elf.’)”


Taken from the Frankenstein manuscripts, Mary Shelley’s writing is in bold red.


In this alternative view Percy Shelley’s notes are in bold red.

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Latest Obsession: British Pathé


Imagine a film archive that preserves some of the great accomplishments and most tragic and  notable events of Western civilization in the 20th century. The British Pathé Archive, a sprawling collection of news pieces from the early 20th century though the 1970s, made an extraordinary number of newsreels and Cinemazines (longer versions of their newsreels). All 90,000 of their films are available to view online for free.

Enter through the archive’s blog to view archive highlights and read writers remark on the historical films. What stole my heart were the human interest stories. These good humored exposés capture Britian’s sometimes quirky culture.

The progression of film type and quality -the earliest are silent- reflects the changing technology of the moving image. Clips are organized by categories like Lifestyle & Culture, Historical Figures & Celebrities, and War & Revolution. Rare footage includes digitized films and stills of archaeological digs, reporting from both World Wars, the women’s rights movement, and scientific and technological breakthroughs. The British Pathé Archive is on Pinterest too, where I know I’ll be spending many hours as I hibernate this winter.

Some selections from the library I’ve recently watched:

Amelia Earhart, aka “Lady Lindy,” landing in London to a crowd’s welcome.

A poodle spends her afternoon at the beauty salon.

The strange superstitions of the Isle of Man including the “Fairy Bridge” where visitors greet the secret fairies for good luck.

Tea time on a tight rope, this stunt never gets old.

Images from The British Pathé on Pinterest.

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