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Fascinating piece in the New Yorker about an ancient Chinese library in Dunhuang, unearthed about one hundred years ago, and where scholars are now in the process of digitizing thousand year old Chinese manuscripts.
A portion of the article equating print with prayer...
"The paper items preserved in the Library also shed light on the origins of another information technology: print. The Diamond Sutra, one of the most famous documents recovered from Dunhuang, was commissioned in 868 A.D., “for free distribution,” by a man named Wang Jie, who wanted to commemorate his parents. In the well-known sermon that it contains, the Buddha declares that the merit accrued from reading and reciting the sutra was worth more than a galaxy filled with jewels. In other words, reproducing scriptures, whether orally or on paper, was good for karma. Printing began as a form of prayer, the equivalent of turning a prayer wheel or slipping a note into the Western Wall in Jerusalem, but on an industrial scale."
From The Chicago Sun-Times: LaGrange Park Public Library officials are brimming with curiosity over who dropped off a rare book stamped “Secret!” from notorious Nazi Commander Hermann Goring, which is now under study at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
“It’s a great mystery,” library director Dixie Conkis said. “We had the book in our possession for a while not knowing quite what to do with it, but felt that because it was marked ‘secret’ it was probably a rather important book.”
The book, “1938-1941: Vier Jahre, Hermann Goring-Werke,” likely was left in the library’s book drop. It easily could have been discarded if not for Ursula Stanek, circulation services director, who grew up in Mannheim, Germany. The book sat on her desk for several weeks in the spring until she noted the inside cover was stamped “Geheim!” meaning “Secret!” with letterhead from Goring, the Nazi state secrete police commander.
Thanks to the librarians, the book now has a permanent home in Washington DC's Holocaust Museum, which had only previously had a reprinted copy.
For five weeks each summer Rare Book School brings some 300 librarians, conservators, scholars, dealers, collectors and random book-mad civilians together for weeklong intensive courses in an atmosphere that combines the intensity of the seminar room, the nerdiness of a “Star Trek” convention and the camaraderie of a summer camp where people come back year after year.
A few weeks ago at Brown University, book conservation technician Marie Malchodi opened yet another leather-bound book, one of more than 300,000 rare volumes in the hold of the John Hay Library. With surgical precision, she turned the pages of a medical text once owned by Solomon Drowne, Class of ’73 (1773, that is.). And there, in the back, she found a piece of paper depicting the baptism of Jesus. It was signed:
“P. Revere Sculp.”
Ye gods! Had Marie Malchodi just made contact with Paul Revere, of Boston, silversmith? Revere, who knew of the fiery need to share vital information, would have appreciated Ms. Malchodi’s galloping reaction, which was:
“I have to show this to somebody.” More from The New York Times.
Every time I catch a whiff of that special old books smell, I am transported through time and space to the cool welcoming basement of The Strand Bookstore in New York City, where I spent many hot humid summer afternoons, searching for some used book I've never seen nor even heard of, or sitting on the cold concrete floor, reading. The smell of old books isn't pleasant, exactly, but it is unmistakable -- and powerfully evocative.
"A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness," writes an international team of chemists from University College London (UCL) and the University of Ljubljana (UL) in Slovenia in their scientific paper (doi:10.1021/ac9016049).
"[T]his unmistakable smell is as much part of the book as its contents."
But what is the source of that smell?
Read more about it at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/grrlscientist/2012/may/01/1
I'm passing this along:
On Apr 10, 2012, at 9:42 PM, "Jennifer Yanco" <email@example.com> wrote:
I am writing to alert you to the situation in Mali, which is increasingly volatile. The conflict has spread to Timbuktu, home of thousands of manuscripts documenting the rich heritage of West Africa through the ages.
I write as a member of the scholarly community, which is concerned for the safety of this cultural and intellectual heritage housed in the many libraries and private collections in Timbuktu. I know that this will be of concern to your institution. Our West African colleagues, Drs. Habib Sy and Ibrahima Lo prepared a petition, urging the parties to the conflict to be mindful of the value of the heritage in these manuscripts and to spare them. We were sent a copy of the petition and were able to make an online petition, which you can now find on the WARA website home page (www.bu.edu/wara) and at the link copied below.
We a -- Read More
Cairo (CNN) -- The new round of bloody clashes between pro-democracy protesters and Egypt's security forces left 10 people dead Saturday, including six by live ammunition, even though the new prime minister denied that live fire was being used by his forces.
Meanwhile, 213-year-old Egyptian maps and historical manuscripts -- described as "irreplaceable" -- were destroyed after a library in Cairo was among structures set ablaze during the clashes, officials said.
Egypt's Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri, appointed by the military earlier this month, condemned the library attack, which he called an "arson committed by the protesters who portrayed no patriotism in protecting the symbols of the historical civilization of this nation." The 200,000-book library is called the Scientific Center.
Destroyed in the fire were the original manuscript of the "description of Egypt" and "irreplaceable maps and historical manuscripts preserved by many generations since the building of the Scientific Center in August 1798 during the French Campaign," Ganzouri said in a statement
Interview with Norman Kane, 86 year old proprieter of the Americanist bookstore, interviewed by former employee, Nate Pedersen. Reflections on changes in bookselling and highlights of a career, published in Fine Books Magazine,
http://www.finebooksmagazine.com/issue/201109/americanist-1.phtml# -- Read More