Thoughts on the Library as Place

SIL is involved in several renovation projects–at the Cooper-Hewitt where the library is moving to new space; at NMNH where the main Natural History is also moving to new space; and at NMAH, where the library has been in the middle of a construction zone for a year and a half. Consequently, I attended a meeting called "Tomorrow’s Library in Today’s  Space." The most interesting presentation was from Jay Shaffer, Director at the U. of Massachusetts, who created a "Learning Commons." He distinguishes this from an Information Commons, which a number of academic libraries are creating.  The latter, in his view, is just providing computer workstations anle to do searching on the library’s website or the Internet, but no other software.  A "Learning Commons" is staffed by both librarians and computer staff and has workstations with Microsoft Office and other software needed by students to do their work. These spaces are open 24/7 and the library has also put in a coffee bar or other food service near by.  Places more »

Report from the ALA exhibits floor

One of the advantages of attending such a large conference is the exposure that is possible to issues and programs outside one’s normal everyday interests.  The extensive exhibits are one place where vendors and publishers of all kinds promote their wares. I’m on the exhibit floor now, watching a presentation in the Library of Congress booth about LC’s digital preservation program. The big news in print publishing continues to be children’s books and products; it’s hard to find adult books (my personal interest) here on the exhibit floor. Nevertheless, many publishers are giving away advance reading copies or uncorrected proofs, not to mention posters, catalogs, flyers and many other (heavy) items.  No wonder there is a post office right here, ready with boxes available for shipping. The exhibit flloor is also a good place to catch trends.  I was struck by the growing specialty areas of gaming and  graphic novels and comics, as well as the increase in audiobook producers.  These are geared toward public and school libraries more than more »

Report for the ALA conference

I’m attending the annual ALA conference in Anaheim, where we’re enjoying welcome relief from Washington’s hot, muggy air.  ALA is so big that every attendee is going to have a highly individual view.  I only arrived yesterday (Friday) afternoon, but already I have several meetings under my belt. My focus this time is largely on international activities, given my current role as a member of the Governing Board of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and as chair of it’s Professional Committee.  So yesterday I sat in on the meeting of ALA’s International Relations Committee, where there were numerous reports on how the association is reaching out to colleagues around the world. I joined Sjoerd Koopman, IFLA’s Coordinator of Professional Activities, in reporting on what IFLA was doing in many areas of the developing world to advocate for libraries and freedom of information. IFLA has just published a world report on the status of intellectual freedom in over 100 countries.  IFLA is also helping to rebuild the library more »

WiFi @ SIL

Smithsonian Libraries is very happy to announce that we can now offer both SI staff and visiting researchers wireless access to the internet in 11 of our library locations! So, if you are coming to visit us in person at any of these libraries, you can bring your laptop! Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Library (New York, NY)Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library (Washington, DC)John Wesley Powell Library of Anthropology (Washington DC)Joseph F. Cullman 3rd, Library of Natural History (Washington, D.C.)Museum Support Center Library (Suitland, MD)National Museum of American History Library (Washington, DC)National Museum of Natural History Library – main reading rooms (Washington, DC)Smithsonian American Art/National Portrait Gallery Library (Washington, DC)Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (Edgewater, MD)Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Library (Republic of Panama)Vine Deloria Jr. Library, National Museum of the American Indian  (Suitland, MD)

The Botanist’s Desire: Botanica Magnifica Redux

Back in May I posted a story about the exhibition of Botanica Magnifica in the Smithsonian Libraries’ exhibition cases in the National Museum of Natural History. Well, in this month’s Fine Books & Collections Magazine, Botanical Magnifica is featured in the cover story, "The Botanist’s Desire" by Jonathan Shipley (No. 34, July/August 2008). In addition to a number of reproductions from the work, the article describes the process used by photographer Jonathan Singer in creating the work. Smithsonian botany curator John Kress also discusses the importance of the work.

Portraits of Scientists and Inventors

A little preview of Smithsonian Libraries images. These are available on the Smithsonian Flickr Commons as well as on the Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology.

Smithsonian Libraries on Flickr

The Smithsonian joins the Flickr Commons project on June 16! The Smithsonian Libraries provided a selection of photographic portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology. These portraits, part of a larger collection of over a 1,000 portraits in various media. The entire collection is available online at Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology. The Flickr Commons project provided Smithsonian more »

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