When The President of the United States and the Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) break ground on February 22, 2012, it will be the beginning of a new adventure for Smithsonian Libraries. Plans for the museum include locating the library in wonderful space on a public floor with direct public access. Mary Augusta Thomas and Bill Baxter have been working with the staff of the NMAAHC space planning team, including representatives from the education department, the center for media arts and collections. We all enjoy the challenges of planning for a highly interactive information commons and a research library with a program that is only now being defined. Our joint vision is for a place that visitors will come with questions raised by their time in the exhibitions. These might be about objects in the collections, or the location of a museum or cultural center in their vicinity.
Just in time for Fat Tuesday, our testers whip up some food with New Orleans flair: gumbo and sweet potato pone! Both come from The New Orleans Cookbook, published by folks that now seem like old friends to Cooking from the Collections, the "staff home economists" of the Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago.
It's a chilly February day here in Washington, D.C., but our thoughts have jumped ahead to sunny Anaheim in June. That's the location and date (June 21-26, to be exact) of the American Library Association's Annual Conference. Smithsonian Libraries will be a new exhibitor this year, co-hosting a space with the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press.
ALA Annual, which attracts up to 20,000 attendees and exhibitors, is the world's largest event for the library community. We are very excited to have the opportunity to meet fellow librarians and publishing professionals from across the country, as well as around the world, and to discuss our tools and resources.
Registration for attendees is open now. Will you be there? If so, is there anything in particular you would like to see from SIL or SISP? We're looking forward to seeing you!
Typically, February 14th is a day set aside for love, flowers and candy. For those in a less romantic spirit, we suggest celebrating Ferris Wheel Day instead! Ferris Wheel Day celebrates the birthday of George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. and his most famous invention.
This image, from Hubert Howe Bancroft's The book of the fair : an historical and descriptive presentation of the world's science, art, and industry, as viewed through the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893 (Chicago, San Francisco: The Bancroft Company, 1895), shows the very first Ferris Wheel at the Columbian Exposition's Midway Plaisance. Ferris build the attraction, sometimes know as the "Chicago Wheel", as a landmark for the Fair. After being dismantled and rebuilt multiple times all over the country, it was finally destroyed in 1906.
Bancroft's work, featured here, is one of many titles on World's Fairs and Expositions in the Smithsonian Libraries collections. Both the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum branches have extensive holdings on the subject. See our selected bibliography here for more information.
An interesting book with an intriguing provenance arrived in the conservation lab this month from The Dibner Libray of the History of Science and Technology. “Lectiones Cutlerianae”, a book created from the collection of six lectures given by the English philosopher and polymath, Robert Hooke, from 1674-1678, was published in 1679. The book is part of the Heralds of Science collection. The lectures touch on various topics including the annual motion of the earth, a description of helioscopes and microscopical discoveries. Hooke was a contemporary and bitter rival of Isaac Newton. He was also a close friend of the architect Christopher Wren. Hooke conducted over half of the surveys in London after the great fire of 1666 that Wren utilized in his plan to re-build the city after the disaster.
Lectiones Cutlerianae, before treatment, cover.
Our particular copy of “Lectiones Cutlerianae” belonged to Baron Grenville former Prime Minister of England (1806-1807) and Chancellor of Oxford University. The binding bears Grenville’s armorial seal on the front and back covers. The book has been previously re-backed, with a new piece of leather on the spine, as well as re-sewn. The re-sewing led to pressure being placed on the title page, causing a tear. There was also an unsightly previous attempt at paper repair to one of the 17 plates in the book.
Lectiones Cutlerianae, before treatment, previous repair
The title page was humidified using Gore-Tex sprayed with de-ionized water. The page was then re-attached, this time to the page below it using wheat starch paste and Japanese tissue.
Lectiones Cutlerianae, after treatment, title page.
As the book was re-sewn, the plates were attached with tabs. It was a simple procedure to humidify the tab portion of the plate enough to entirely remove it from the textblock. With the plate removed, the plate could be immersed in de-ionized water to remove the previous paper repair. The washing also lessened the appearance of tide lines on the plate (from previous water damage.) Once the plate was dried and flattened the repairs were re-done and the plate re-attached to the tab.
Lectiones Cutlerianae, after treatment, newly repaired plate.
— Katie Wagner