Librarian subject specialists build guides based on subject area to help students and researchers quickly find all of the most relevant resources available at a particular library easily. Given the cost of commercial databases, different libraries will necessarily have different databases, and some of the most popular resources are in multiple databases. Thus, researchers going to a new school may find their key journals in a different database, in different databases, or in the same database but one with such an updated interface that it’s basically a new database. Finding the right resources in the right way becomes a complicated act of mapping needs toRead More →

Like the Library of Congress, the National Museum of Health and Medicine has also been exploring using Flickr to share images. The images are great and include historical photos and documents. Some, like the Malaria Joe comic are humorous images from their eras, but some of the photos are strikingly beautiful, painful, haunting, and inspiring snapshots of life, offering glimpses into their time and into people’s lives. Everyone should be able to wander through these images, and it’s an amazing gift to have them online for us to see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/99129398@N00 http://www.flickr.com/photos/7438870@N04 http://www.flickr.com/photos/22719239@N04Read More →

Augment or alternative reality games combine the digital and the physical to create innovative and interactive games. Notable examples could include geocaching games, and games where players decode information on websites to find information on other websites, call or email the “decrypted” phone numbers or email addresses, or any one of many other activities based on the information learned from the digital site. The real play of ARGs comes through in the back-and-forth from digital to non-digital and in the gaming communities these types of games create. While I’m familiar with ARGs from game studies, it seems like some library and archival materials almost invokeRead More →

The Library of Congress is now using Flickr, and Flickr’s new commons area, to load images for collaborative tagging. This is wonderful because the Library of Congress has built so much core infrastructure using hierarchical definitions and adding Web 2.0-style folksonomy information to that is exactly what the Semantic Web (sometimes called Web 3.0) is all about. The Library of Congress has a Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (with more than 1 million images and growing) that have been available online for over 10 years and now they are also selling some of their materials via print-on-demand. Because the Library of Congress is so importantRead More →

Like many other librarians, I’m going to the ALA Midwinter conference. ALA is the American Libraries Association and its conferences are massive. I’m really excited to attend both this conference and the annual conference. I’m more excited about this conference because I’ll be there tomorrow and because the midwinter conference deals with more of the business-meeting concerns and so it’s smaller than the annual conference. For a first-time attendee and a feral librarian (who are librarians without official library training), the smaller conference size will be helpful. Even with the smaller size the conference has loads of great programs, many of which run simultaneously. I’mRead More →

The Harvard Law School Library just announced a new digital collection highlighting crime broadsides. The collection is online here and the collection description is: “Just as programs are sold at sporting events today, broadsides–styled at the time as “Last Dying Speeches” or “Bloody Murders”–were sold to the audience that gathered to witness public executions in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain.” The broadsides span 1707 to 1891 and include accounts of executions for various common and uncommon crimes. Now, researchers can see both the cultural reception of sentences as well as the court documents from London’s central criminal court, the Old Bailey (the proceedings of which areRead More →

While it’s a bit late, January 1 is normally the magical day when new items pass into the public domain. It doesn’t mean too much for the United States–and in fact it won’t mean much until 2019 because of the way our copyright laws are designed–but it’s still something to celebrate. Everybody’s Libraries has a nice overview of January 1’s significance and new gifts to the public domain. For anyone holding copyright, Creative Commons has ready-made licenses available for easy use to ensure that new works are available before 2019. UF’s Digital Library Center also has handy forms for granting Internet Distribution permissions to UF.Read More →

Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “The Library of Babel” told of a fictional library with every possible book. Within the vast library, all useful books and books of gibberish would be included together putting the process of finding information into a desperate state. The rise in digital archives without a corresponding rise in organizational structures could lead to a “Servers of Babel” scenario, at least for awhile, when we’re archiving 27 exabytes (27,000 petabytes, or 27 billion gigabytes) of data in the next two years. Finding new ways to organize and create useful means for accessing this information–and finding ways to preserve decaying, deprecated, andRead More →