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A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be. This month, CityLab’s visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger shares the story of how America’s public libraries came to be, and their uneven history of serving all who need them.
From How American Cities Got Their Libraries - CityLab
In recent years, archaeologists and historians have awakened to the potential of ancient DNA extracted from human bones and teeth. DNA evidence has enriched—and complicated—stories of prehistoric human migrations. It has provided tantalizing clues to epidemics such as the black death. It has identified the remains of King Richard III, found under a parking lot. But Collins isn’t just interested in human remains.
some reference and book questions stick out more than others. They stand out either because they were truly great questions or because they were absolutely ridiculous. Either way, patrons never fail to keep me on my toes. Just when I think a decade of public libraries has allowed me to see and hear it all, another question or situation leaves me stunned.
BEHIND A LARGE CAUTION SIGN on a locked door inside the Houston Metropolitan Research Center at Houston Public Library’s Julia Ideson Building downtown, you’ll find the vault. It’s not filled with money or an arsenal, but it does contain the world’s most valuable currency and deadliest weapon—the written word. Researchers must apply to peruse the rare, often centuries-old books and other artifacts inside the room, which is kept at a crisp 60 degrees and cared for by preservation librarian Elizabeth Mayer.
Studies of menus, however, are a little trickier to find. Menus as scholarly artifacts have come a long way in recent years — traveling from the libraries of antiquarians and sentimental dilettantes to invocations in academic monographs about everything from environmental history to immigration patterns to changing trends in graphic design. The New York Public Library’s collection of over 45,000 menus is getting a lot more traffic than it used to, while To Live and Dine in L.A.
Noted historians serve as your personal audio guide through a virtual walking tour of the New York Public Library. Find out about hidden details of the famed NYC building as these expert reveal the history behind the Winnie the Pooh toys, the Rose Main Reading Room, the iconic lion statues Patience and Fortitude, the Stephen A.
Last summer, University of Michigan art and design librarian Jamie Lausch Vander Broek acquired 20 Slices—a squat, square volume composed of 20 plastic-wrapped Kraft singles sandwiched between bright yellow covers. “For me, a lot of the purpose of the collection is engaging with people who usually have never seen an artist’s book before,” she explains. “So I have tailored my selections away from subtlety.
Partly this is the story that we all know: Google Books has failed to live up to its promise as the company has moved away from its original mission of organizing information for people.
Faced with the hideous maw that is today’s news cycle, there could be little more soothing than slipping into the esoteric world of We Love Endpapers, a society for enthusiasts to share their favourite examples of the most beautiful pages bookending tomes.
Endpapers date back to at least the 15th century, when pieces of old manuscript or vellum would be used to help sew a book block into its binding, and to protect it.