books · libraries

From the Qin Dynasty to Concord, MA: A History of Book Banning

Words can be dangerous. Though we tend to think of censorship and book banning as modern phenomena, the prohibition of books has existed since the creation of the written word. In honor of Banned Book Week, I want to take a quick look back at censored books in history. Traditionally the people who banned books considered… Continue reading From the Qin Dynasty to Concord, MA: A History of Book Banning

libraries

Cats, Card Catalogs, and Not So Little Free Libraries

When I first stepped into the main library on the campus at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), I stared upwards and blinked for a long while. You see, there was a giant blue cat hanging upside from the ceiling. Most libraries don’t have one of those. I hadn’t expected to be amazed by the libraries… Continue reading Cats, Card Catalogs, and Not So Little Free Libraries

libraries

Then Libraries Came for the Memes

I recently mentioned the prolonged work in progress that is the US Library of Congress’s Twitter archive, but while we wait for it, other digital archives have finally come to fruition. In an effort to preserve the aesthetic and language developments that have defined the past decades, the Library of Congress has created the Webcomics… Continue reading Then Libraries Came for the Memes

libraries

How the Library of Congress is Trying to Archive Twitter

Losing the remnants of the past is one of the nightmares of historians. There are so many fragments that simply don’t survive the march of time, and as they disintegrate so too does our ability to understand the past. The modern era and its technologies raise new questions about how archivists, historians, and other interested… Continue reading How the Library of Congress is Trying to Archive Twitter

books · resources

Online Resource: Reading Free Rare Books

Sometimes I get a hankering to read old books. Luckily I’ve found a website that allows me to explore some of the rarest books in the world for free. The Rare Book Room is a website created by Octavo, a company that has digitized hundreds of rare books from the greatest libraries in the world. The… Continue reading Online Resource: Reading Free Rare Books

books · libraries

The Library at the End of the World

People like to prepare for end of the world, and sometimes they use libraries to do it. There is, of course, the Survivor Library, a digital collection of over 7,000 freely available PDFs intended to help humanity rebuild after a cataclysm. It contains information about “[h]ow to make water safe to drink. How to build… Continue reading The Library at the End of the World

books

Hear Tolkien Read from The Lord of the Rings

  Since Oxford Libraries recently announced a new book and exhibit about J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, now is the perfect opportunity to listen to some archival audio from him. The clips here were first shared by Eugene F. Douglass Jr. along with Maria Popova from Brainpickings. According to… Continue reading Hear Tolkien Read from The Lord of the Rings

books

New Tolkien: The Man Who Made Middle Earth

The world is soon going to learn a little more about the man who wrote The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The Bodleian Library of Oxford University is publishing a biography of Tolkien called Tolkien: The Maker of Middle Earth as well as holding a major exhibit on the man in 2018. The book is being written by… Continue reading New Tolkien: The Man Who Made Middle Earth

books · libraries

Archive Adventure: ‘Tales from Catland’

Periodically I like to share the strange, fascinating, and often rare books that live in library archives. Today I’ve found one that will make you absolutely purr with pleasure. Tales from Catland: Written for Kittens by an Old Tabby was produced by Tabitha Grimalkin and was, as far as I can tell, originally published in 1852. The cover… Continue reading Archive Adventure: ‘Tales from Catland’

books · resources

Of Rakes and Dandies: Chap Records as Historical Dating Apps

At the turn of the 20th century, people couldn’t keep blogs about their dating adventures. They could, however, keep chap records. To modern ears, the phrase “chap records” sounds like a clumsy reference to a child’s first chapter book. But the phrase was a bit different. Young women used chap records, which were mostly blank… Continue reading Of Rakes and Dandies: Chap Records as Historical Dating Apps