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Dick Pfander has spent most of his life collecting and analyzing box scores from every NBA game since the league’s founding. He did most of his work in solitude, by hand, before the age of personal computers. And he did it simply for his own pleasure, surrounded by supportive family members who cared neither about basketball nor statistics, let alone their intersection.
In 2013, Maurice Shohet, an Iraqi Jew who now lives in Washington, D.C., received a surprising email from the National Archives. A librarian had recovered his elementary school record that was left behind nearly 40 years ago when he and his family fled Iraq. The record is part of a cache of thousands of personal documents and religious texts that were found at the start of the Iraq War, drowning in the cellar of a building run by one of the world's most wanted men.
From The Washington Post:
"We Virginians, we really love our history,” said Laura Wickstead, director of the Virginia Room at the City of Fairfax Regional Library. “That’s for sure.”
“We’re sitting within a virtual stone’s throw of the Library of Congress, the National Archives and these fabulous university collections,” Laura said, “but even these smaller public library collections are superb and have things you don’t find other places.”
There’s certainly a lot to love. After all, this is the part of the country that produced George Mason, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Virginia was a hotbed of the Civil War. More recently, it’s where the mysterious urban legend known as the Bunny Man did whatever it is that Bunny Men do.
A new archive is trying to digitize thousands of hours of tape from TV and radio stations across the country—before those tapes disintegrate. "The scary thing about it is that they are on physical formats that are deteriorating," Karen Cariani, director of WGBH's library and archives told me. "Video tape and audiotape is not a stable format. After 40 or 50 years, they are disintegrating. And the information—pictures, sounds on that physical medium—is disappearing. Unlike a piece of paper or a photograph that might last 100 years, media formats are extremely fragile."
It is an eerie bibliophile's netherworld, accessible by cramped cages of creaky service elevators, dark and cool and redolent of mildew, old leather bindings and sloughing paper that litters the floor like snowflakes. There is no climate control among miles of metal shelves, and accessing the hundreds of thousands of volumes is an arduous task. From the time a patron requests a book at the State Library, it typically takes two days to retrieve. A clerk drives a van four blocks around the Plaza, descends into the stacks, hunts among the haphazard holdings and drives back with the book.
The Cleveland Public Library Found a Lost First Edition Copy of 'A Christmas Carol'
Cleveland librarian Kelly Brown had far more modest plans when she first began collecting items for a holiday traditions display at the Cleveland Public Library. But when she began poking around the stacks, she stumbled on a fairly unexpected Yuletide surprise: a first-edition copy of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
The Story Behind the First Ransom Note in American History
One day last March, Bridget Flynn, a school librarian who lives in Philadelphia, was searching for an old family drawing to print on the invitations to her daughter Rebecca’s bridal shower. As she and Rebecca rummaged through the several generations of family artifacts—letters, photographs, an envelope of hair cuttings—she keeps in plastic bins in her basement, they found a stack of small envelopes tied together with a black shoelace.
“Oh, honey, these are love letters,” Flynn said...
Author Ray Bradbury moved to Los Angeles in 1934 and spent the rest of his life on the West Coast, but his fondness for Waukegan IL never dissipated.
After his death, in June of last year, library officials learned Bradbury had bequeathed his personal book collection to the County Street facility. It's no small gift.
"Every room had a bookshelf overflowing," said Rena Morrow, the library's marketing, programming, and exhibits manager. The collection contains some books that could be valuable, such as first editions of noted works or autographed books, Morrow said.
The library also stands to receive copies of books Bradbury wrote, including some in foreign languages. The collection's value is being appraised.
The library may receive some of Bradbury's personal belongings, too.
"We'd like to get one of his typewriters," library Executive Director Richard Lee said. "He had four."
Library and Archives Canada has entered a hush-hush deal with a private high-tech consortium that would hand over exclusive rights to publicly owned books and artifacts for 10 years.
The plan is scheduled to be announced publicly on Friday and according to documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, a gag order has been placed on everyone involved in the project until then.